Australia — A NEW location-based emergency alerts text message system has been launched in time for this year’s bushfire season.
The system went live this week, meaning mobile phone users will now get messages based on their current location instead of just their registered address.
Victorian Emergency Services Minister Kim Wells said the new system was a timely development, with forecasts of a heightened bushfire risk later this year.
“The technology has been thoroughly tested and we are confident it will meet our technical and operational requirements this coming summer,” he said.
Telstra has been fine tuning the system for nearly a year, with Optus and Vodafone coming on board recently to ensure all users will receive the messages.
The service is designed to reach active mobile phones that are roaming on Australia’s networks. The state government contributed $8 million over four years to help deliver the location-based emergency warning capability.
Haddon CFA captain Graeme Morris said the location-based texts were a positive move and added to the other methods of warning people of danger.
“I think the more warnings there are the better, especially when it’s relevant to your location,” he said.
Mr Wells said that while location-based text messages were a significant addition to the other warnings available, no-one should rely on them completely.
“Relying on one form of warning in an emergency only gives you one chance to receive information,” he said.
“It is important that people tune into the radio, check emergency services web sites and stay aware of conditions outside.
“Text message alerts have been criticised in past bushfire seasons, including during this year’s Carngham fires where some residents said they didn’t receive them.