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Bells and Whistles: Texting Given Emergency Duty

Taranaki Civil Defence Emergency Management Group media release
For immediate release
11 January 2008


Bells and Whistles: Texting Given Emergency Duty

Send the message OPTN TCD to 2678. It’s free and it may even save your life.

The power of texting is being harnessed to help give Taranaki people warning of impending Civil Defence emergencies.

Free text alerts from the Taranaki Civil Defence Emergency Management Group will be broadcast as necessary to all those who subscribe to the service. Subscription is free no matter whether cellphone users are with Telecom or Vodafone.

To subscribe, people merely have to send the message OPTN TCD to 2678. There is no charge.

Civil Defence authorities say the service enhances the ability of those responding to emergencies to ensure the public has immediate access to information.

“Getting real-time information to people in a timely manner during a Civil Defence emergency is critical. This service, along with more traditional media such as radio, will be fundamental to helping us do this,” says Taranaki Regional Council Director-Environment Quality Gary Bedford.

The messages will be short and are most likely to include advice for people to turn on their radios or go to the Taranaki Regional Council website, www.trc.govt.nz, for further information about a developing emergency.

Texts will be managed and updated as necessary by emergency management staff.

“Our aim is to provide subscribers with relevant ‘heads up’ information to ensure they can both prepare for - and if necessary respond to – a significant emergency situation,” Mr Bedford says.

“It’s another tool for us, and a useful one. However, it doesn’t mean anyone – Civil Defence workers or the public – can be relaxed about preparing for the prospect of an emergency. People still need heed those Get Ready, Get Thru messages and prepare now, not when the warning comes.”

The service is provided through communications company OPTN. Managing Director Murray Derecourt says it is based on a successful existing model used by companies to send regular text updates about their products and services.

The emergency warning system has been in use in other parts of the country – including during the Ruapehu lahar event last year.

OPTN is a subsidiary of Rocom Wireless.

For more information see www.trc.govt.nz, www.getthru.govt.nz, and www.optn.co.nz.

To subscribe: Send the message OPTN TCD to 2678. Subscription is free.

ENDS

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