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Civil Defence cellphone alerting project funded

Civil Defence cellphone alerting project funded

Thames Valley Civil Defence supports the funding of a new national business case for a cellphone emergency alerting system announced by Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye today.

"I think it's important that we explore that avenue," says Civil Defence Manager Gary Talbot.

"The advantage of a national system is that not only New Zealanders will benefit, but so will international visitors in an emergency."

Ms Kaye says the project is about reaching large numbers of people quickly, through cellphone alerts, to save lives in civil defence emergencies.

"By using a separate cellphone channel, the technology could reach specific geographical areas without causing communications congestion,” she says.

“Time can be crucial in some major emergencies. For example, following an earthquake that presented an immediate tsunami threat, a cellphone alerting system could be used to warn quickly those in the most dangerous zones.

“New Zealand doesn’t have a standard public alerting system that has coverage right across the country. It makes sense to look at taking advantage of advances in technologies to increase our public alerting coverage and preparedness for natural disasters.

“Other countries utilising cellphone text technology to issue public alerts about emergencies include Australia, the USA, the Netherlands and Israel.

“It is important that there continues to be a range of methods of emergency public alerting - from sirens to all forms of media. I believe this could be an important complementary addition to ensure people have adequate warning in the event of a major emergency.

“The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management will work closely with telecommunication providers and local authorities on this business case. Funding to implement public alerting technology through cellphone alerting, should the business case be supported, would require agreement through a subsequent Budget process.”

Ends

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