Victorian govt signs deal with Telstra to upgrade Emergency Alert system

The Victorian government has signed a deal with Telstra to upgrade the current Emergency Alert system to a a national location-based phone emergency warning system.

“The current Emergency Alert system provides warnings to landlines and mobile phones based on the customer’s registered service address,” federal emergency management minister, Robert McClelland, said in a statement.

“This new location-based solution will send warnings to mobile phones that are physically in an emergency zone when a disaster strikes.”

Acting Victorian premier, Peter Ryan, said the location-based solution is expected to be rolled out across Australia in November 2012.

The Victorian government is also in negotiations with Optus and Vodafone to work on the project.

However, a spokesman for McClelland told Computerworld Australia that he couldn’t specify if the telcos will be contributing to the development of the location-based technology, or provide the Emergency Alert service or both.

According to McClelland, the current Emergency Alert system has been crucial during natural disasters since its implementation in 2009.

“The system has been used more than 300 times and has sent over seven million warning messages nationally to Australians at times of disaster,” he said in a statement.

However, Ryan said communities shouldn’t just rely on the telephone warning system, but also listen to the radio and check emergency services websites regularly to stay informed.

In December last year, McClelland urged Aussies to comment on a proposed emergency messaging system called Common Alerting Protocol, which will enable emergency messages to be sent out simultaneously over a number of different warning systems including radio, television, smartphones, email and social media.

McClelland also launched the DisasterWatch app for both iPhone and Android smartphones last year, which sends users the latest public information about disaster events via direct feeds from official state, territory and national sources.

Follow Diana Nguyen on Twitter: @diananguyen9

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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