Emergency Alert system launched

Monday, 26 November, 2012

The Emergency Alert warning system that sends text alerts to mobile phones based on their location during an emergency has been officially launched in Victoria.

“Getting emergency warnings out effectively during a disaster is absolutely critical,” Commonwealth Attorney-General and Minister for Emergency Management Nicola Roxon said.

“In a world first, emergency text messages will now be sent out to mobile phones based on where that phone is, as well as its registered address.

“After all, mobile phones are mobile. This update will ensure emergency alerts get to the right people at the right time in the right place.

“This groundbreaking technology has already proven invaluable when it was successfully used for the first time in South Australia this week to warn thousands of Telstra mobile users in the Port Lincoln area of approaching bushfires.

“I thank the Victorian Government for managing the development and implementation of the capability and the upgrade on behalf of all states and territories - their commitment to managing the Emergency Alert contract and securing the location-based warning enhancements has been outstanding.”

Speaking at the Standing Council on Police and Emergency Management meeting, Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan said it was reassuring the location-based enhancement to Emergency Alert sends text messages to mobile phones based on their last known location in the warning area.

“The location-based enhancement to Emergency Alert allows emergency warnings to be sent to mobile telephones based on the location of the mobile handset at the time of an emergency, including residents and people travelling through a threatened area.”

Telstra mobile phone customers will benefit from the technology this season with Vodafone and Optus mobile phone customers to follow next year. All landlines and mobile phones, regardless of carrier, will still be able to receive Emergency Alert warnings based on the registered service address of the handset.

The Commonwealth Government contributed $60 million to assist states and territories to establish Emergency Alert and develop the location-based capability. Victoria has led the procurement of the technology on behalf of the Commonwealth and all states and territories.

Ryan said that while Emergency Alert is an important resource, it is just one way that emergency services may warn a community at threat of an emergency.

“Individuals and communities should not rely on receiving an Emergency Alert warning,” Ryan said.

“People should have an emergency plan in place, stay aware of conditions and refer to various information outlets such as radio, TV, emergency management websites and social media.”

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