Worldwide PWS initiatives
Over recent years, governments worldwide came to the conclusion that current public warning channels such as sirens, radio and TV are no longer sufficient.
As people carry mobile phones with them wherever they go using the mobile network as an alert channel is an obvious choice. Cell Broadcast has therefore garnered much interest from governments across the world for emergency alerts services including EU-Alert (Europe), CMAS/WEA (USA), National Message (Israel), LAT-Alert (Chile) as well as the Earthquake Tsunami Warning System (Japan).
EU-Alert (reverse 112) - Europe
EU-ALERT, the European emergency alerts system (reverse 112) is being standardised by Emergency Telecommunications (EMTEL), a committee formed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). When implemented, the letters EU will be replaced by characters identifying a particular country (e.g. NL-ALERT for the Netherlands and UK-ALERT for the United Kingdom). This allows each country to configure their own system to meet their specific requirements while incorporating it within a common core specification, thereby enabling pan-European interoperability. The Netherlands is the first EU member state to implement EU-Alert and a number of other European countries, like France and Belgium, are currently investigating the possibility of deploying similar services.
Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS or WEA) - USA
Following the Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act the US is deploying the “Commercial Mobile Alert System” (CMAS), also known as the “Personal Localised Alerting Network” (PLAN) or in short “Wireless Emergency Alerts” (WEA). The emergency alerts system has been overseen by the Federal Communications Commission and allows local, federal and national agencies in the US to transmit alerts from the President, the National Weather Service and emergency service organisations. The alerts are sent to participation mobile operators who then broadcast them to their customers, using Cell Broadcast. The CMAS/WEA system has involved collaboration between the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, the Alliance of Telecommunications Industry Solutions and the Telecommunications Industry Association.
'National Message' - Israel
Israel faces a wide range of public safety threats, from natural disasters to geopolitical violence. Zeev Tzuk Ram Head of the National Emergency Management Authority is on record as saying: “My worst nightmare is that a strong earthquake will catch us unprepared with inability to warn the population and oversee and control the aftermath.” The country’s geography exacerbates this as it concentrates the majority of the population in just 35 per cent of the country’s area, making the population highly vulnerable to disasters. In response to this, the Israeli Home Front Command and the National Emergency Management Authority launched the emergency alerts system. Deployed in conjunction with the country’s cellular operators the alert system will use Cell Broadcast technology.
ONEMI 'LAT-Alert' - Chile
Following the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2012, the Government of Chile recognised the need to implement a comprehensive alert and notification system to warn its citizens in the event of future disasters. President Sebastian Pineda initiated a review into the available options. This review concluded that a multi-channel alert and notification system was desirable. Cell Broadcast was chosen as the primary alert technology to be augmented with notifications over analogue and digital TV broadcast, radio, sirens and the Internet. Following the President’s order the Chilean Sub Secretary of Telecommunications (SUBTEL) issued in an official tender for deployment of Chile’s next generation emergency alert and notification system in early 2011. The deployment is now underway.
Earthquake and Tsunami Warning System (ETWS) - Japan
NTT Docomo, one of Japan’s leading operators, has offered the Area Mail Disaster Service since November 2007. This Cell Broadcast services delivers warnings for impending earthquakes and tsunamis. Users on the NTT Docomo network are provided with handsets that have a specific configuration menu that allows them to chose whether to receive earthquake and/or tsunami warnings or not. The menu also allows users to select the volume and duration of the ringtone dedicated to emergency messages. The Earthquake and Tsunami Warning System (ETWS) has been standardized in 3GPP (a global telecommunications standardisation institute). Other tsunami and earthquake prone countries are looking to deploy similar solutions in the future.