Australia: The Australian Government is to fund the upgrade of the national emergency warning system, ‘Emergency Alert’, to deliver warnings to mobile phones based on the location of the handset.
The system currently sends warnings by recorded voice and text message to landlines and mobile phones based on an owner’s billing address rather than the location of a handset at the time of a disaster or emergency. This has meant that people caught in a disaster zone, who have a billing address outside the affected area, have not received critical warnings.
The interim report of the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission, released in August 2009 recommended the establishment a national warning system based on the location, in addition to the billing address, of a mobile phone. The Australian Government supported this recommendation and provided USD 1.35 million to the Victorian Government to investigate the capability on behalf of all states and territories.
In a joint statement, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Attorney General Robert McClellend said, “The Victorian Government would commence and lead negotiations with each of the mobile phone carriers and the outcome of these negotiations will be considered by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).”
“Funding 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,” the statement said.