Disaster warning via SMS

Mobile phone smartphone urban nomadsSmart phones.Photo:Pixabay

A new SMS notification system is to alert and guide Oslo residents if a serious incident affects the capital.

The new system makes it possible for the local police to send an SMS alert to all mobile phones within a particular area of their choice.

– It has strengthened our preparedness greatly, says Responsible for Emergencies in Oslo, Ann Kristin Brunborg.

She talks about the new SMS notification system that the municipality and the police now have installed. The notification system will be used for events such as terrorist attacks, major accidents and natural disasters, either to inform or to warn people. The system makes it possible to reach a lot of people in a matter of seconds.

– We can select a specific area on a map where we want to send out a notice. The system will then identify all mobiles which are switched on in the area. Those who have Norwegian, Swedish or Danish SIM cards will receive notification in Norwegian, while other phones will be notified in English, the Emergency Manager explains.

The municipality has previously only been able to notify registered residents via SMS. The new system can be far more effective than, for example, an alert of the type “important message, listen to the radio” on the old typhoon system.

– We tested the SMS system during an exercise in 2015. Then we notified 120,000 people, said Brunborg.

 – More reliable than an app

The system uses the mobile network to send text messages and is therefore vulnerable if this fails. Sales manager Michael Sargeant in Unified Messaging Systems, the company that is behind the system, says that it is still more reliable than app solutions found in other countries.

Emergency Manager Brunborg assures that they are also prepared for situations where the cellular- or internet fails.

– Then we will notify people using old-fashioned methods, she says.

Brunborg says that it will be very high threshold before sending out notifications via the new system.

– There will be situations where life and health are threatened and where it is appropriate to go out with notification to the public.

It’s the Preparedness Agency and Emergency Manager who, in conjunction with the city council that will decide whether a notice should be sent out or not.


Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today