SMS emergency management goes national
Telstra first to provide location-based alerts
Location-based warnings via SMS will become a feature of Australia’s emergency management system this year, with Telstra the first carrier to commit to a system on a national basis.
After signing an agreement late last year with the Victoria state government, Telstra is now preparing to build the capability into its network, with The Australian reporting that the system will go live by November.
Australia’s other two carriers, Optus and Vodafone Hutchison Australia, have not yet announced when or if they will follow suit.
At the moment, emergency warnings are limited to using the residential address associated with individual subscribers, which means visitors and tourists have to rely on such devastatingly old-school emergency notifications as radio announcements.
Location based warnings came to the fore as a recommendation made by the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission which was established to investigate how to avoid a repeat of the late 2009 fires in which 173 people died. ®
So far I've seen 2 uses of this in our shire.... Both epic fails.
One was when the NSW Police violated the Spam Act by sending out a non-emergency SMS to everyone to kindly ask us to be on the look out for a missing elderly man - they gave us his name, but failed to describe him. Not sure if they wanted us to ask every older man if he was the guy or not...
And the other was when they sent out a bulk message to Wee Waa residents telling them to evacuate immediately. Because they only had 3 days before the flood waters got there. And the predicted level put it at least 1/2 way up the levy bank around the town.
They later sent out one stating the previous was a mistake and they didn't need to evacuate - but too late then. They'd already thrown any newer residents into a panic.
We had a localised SMS warning before Cyclone Yasi...
...and it confused everyone. A text that basically said "Cyclone Yasi is coming. Evacuate now. We're all doomed" is less than helpful. Which direction should people head, north or south? Even more ridiculous is that the cyclone was so big that no one could have driven out of the area unless they were on the margins.
They really need to think this one through a bit more.