Australia — The Victorian Government is seeking expressions of interest to operate the state’s new emergency phone alert system from Telstra and Optus.
The system will notify people of impending disasters, including bushfires, based on the location of their billing address.
It was announced at a Council of Australian Governments meeting last month.
The Victorian Government says it has approached Optus and Telstra to run the system, which it expects to be up and running by October.
Victoria’s Emergency Services Commissioner, Bruce Esplin, says people will be contacted either on their land lines or mobile phones.
“Depending on the particular emergency but it may be where to go for additional information such as tune into ABC radio, in a different situation it might be advice as to a particular course of action, so on a fixed line you’re likely to get a recorded voice message, on a mobile you’re likely to ultimately get SMS messages,” he said.
Mr Esplin says the system will eventually be upgraded to warn people based on the actual location of their mobile phones.
“The second stage is to use location-based technology, which is a more refined way of getting information to mobiles by their location, rather than their billing address, which obviously is a more preferable situation,” he said.
“But there’s a bit more technology, and a bit more software involved in creating that sort of a solution.”
Meanwhile, Victoria’s Chief Police Commissioner, Simon Overland, says the state’s emergency services have been unfairly dealt with by the Bushfires Royal Commission.
He says criticism of the Country Fire Authority at the Royal Commission may overshadow the important role the fire services played on Black Saturday.
But Mr Overland told the ABC’s 774 Mornings program that he denies the comments will undermine the role of the Royal Commission.
“I’m expressing my support for my colleagues in the emergency services, particularly those people who work for the fire services,” he said.
“I think it is important that they’re supported through this time, it’s a difficult time for them.”