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Location-based emergency warnings broadcast to mobile phones

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15 Oct 2013
Major enhancements to the national telephone-based emergency warning system announced today.

Federal Minister for Justice Michael Keenan and Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services Kim Wells today launched a significant enhancement to Emergency Alert that now sees location-based warnings broadcast to all Australian mobile phone networks during emergencies.

“The Federal Government has invested nearly $60 million towards establishing the Emergency Alert telephone warning system used by emergency service agencies,” Mr Keenan said.

“The location-based solution is an important enhancement to Emergency Alert that enables a text message to be sent to mobile phones in the vicinity of an emergency.

“Previously emergency warning messages could only be sent to a mobile phone’s registered service address, which meant that visitors to the area could not receive the message.” Mr Keenan said.

Optus and Vodafone Hutchison Australia have now deployed the capability following on from Telstra’s deployment in November last year.

The service is designed to reach active mobile phones that are roaming on Australia’s networks.

“This is a timely development, particularly given the forecasts of heightened bushfire risk this summer season,” Mr Wells said.

“Today’s launch marks the final milestone in the national telephone-based emergency warning project led by the Victorian Government.

“The technology has been thoroughly tested and we are confident it will meet our technical and operational requirements this coming summer.”

The Victorian Government contributed $8 million and has led the four-year national project to deliver the location-based emergency warning capability.

Mr Wells said that while location-based Emergency Alert was a significant addition to the suite of warnings available, no-one should rely solely on a mobile phone for warnings.

“This kind of warning technology is an important tool that has the potential to save lives,” Mr Wells said.

“Relying on one form of warning in an emergency only gives you one chance to receive information.

“It is important that people tune into the radio, check emergency services websites and stay aware of conditions outside.”

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