Australia — The Australian Federal Government is to fund the upgrade of a national system that will deliver warnings to mobile phones based on the location of the handset.
The Emergency Alert system currently sends warnings by recorded voice and text message to landlines and mobile phones based on an owners billing address rather than the actual location of a handset at the time of a disaster or emergency.
This has meant that people caught in a disaster zone with a billing address outside the affected area have been unable to receive the vital and potentially lifesaving warnings.
In 2009 the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission recommended a national warning system based on the location of a mobile phone.
The Commonwealth provided AUD 1.35m to the Victorian Government to investigate the capability on behalf of all states and territories.
The pilot scheme, in operation since December, has been used 56 times and has issued in excess of 500,000 messages for flood, tsunami, bushfire, chemical incidents and even a missing child.
It was concluded that it would be possible and beneficial to roll out the enhancements across all Australian mobile networks.
The Victorian Government will now commence and lead negotiations with each of the mobile phone carriers, the outcome of which will be considered by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).
Funding for this announcement will be fully offset over the forward estimates, consistent with our commitment to return the Budget to surplus in 2013, three years ahead of schedule, said the government statement.