Emergency warnings gets $1.3m funding

Friday, 24 September, 2010

The Australian government will fund an upgrade of the national emergency warning system, 'Emergency Alert', to deliver warnings to mobile phones based on the location of the handset.

The system currently sends warnings by recorded voice and text message to landlines and mobile phones based on an owner's billing address rather than the actual location of a handset at the time of a disaster or emergency.

This has meant that people caught in a disaster zone, who have a billing address outside the affected area, have been unable to receive the warnings.

The Federal Government has provided $1.35 million to the Victorian Government to investigate the capability on behalf of all states and territories.

This was part of the more than $26 million that has been provided by the government to establish a national telephone-based emergency warning capability, including $15 million for Emergency Alert.

Since Emergency Alert became operational in December last year it has been used 56 times and has issued more than 500,000 messages.

The system has been used in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland for flood, tsunami, bushfire, chemical incidents and even a missing child.

The Victorian Government will now lead negotiations with each of the mobile phone carriers, the outcome of which will be considered by the Council of Australian Governements (COAG).

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