Saturday, November 28, 2009

National Emergency Alert system from next week

The Victorian Premier has announced that the National Emergency Alert system had been tested and will be ready for use next week. Unfortunately there is no emergency information system to back this up with detailed information about the emergency. As a result the National Emergency Alert system is of little value and may cause more harm than good.

The system, developed by Telstra, was previously called the National Emergency Warning System, and can deliver 300 text messages per second and 1000 voice messages per minute.The initial system will use the registered address of the telephone or mobile service and so not be able to target travelling users.

A test recorded audio message was sent containing the Australian Standard Warning Signal. The test text message was:

+6144 444 444

EMERGENCY TEST MESSAGE from the Victorian Government to test the new telephone emergency warning system NO ACTION REQUIRED For more info

In neither case was the recipient required to take any action. Reception was gauged by random phone poll afterwards. The Victorian government has not released the results of the test. The Victorian Premier should release the results of the test for independent and public review.

Unfortunately the web site people referred to is a policy and administrative one, and contains no useful information about actual emergencies. Having a system which can deliver an emergency message is of little value unless those warned can be referred to more detailed information relevant to the specific emergency. The Victorian government needs to follow the practice adopted by the ACT Government and have a web page specifically about current emergencies.

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