Development process for the Australian CAP Profile

On February 28, 2012, in CAP, by with The Attorney-General's Department, Australian Federal Government

This article is the third of five articles I am writing to highlight what is happening in Australia with the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP).  In my first article “Australia’s emergency alerting system”, I introduced the systems that are currently used in Australia to alert communities about potential hazards and emergencies.  My second article “What the Australian CAP Profile seeks to achieve”, identified why CAP is considered necessary in Australia and the benefits that CAP will provide to the Australian emergency management environment.  This article discusses the development process that is being undertaken to develop the Australian CAP Profile. Continue reading »

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"Twitter Terrorism" and False Alerts via Social Media

On October 7, 2011, in Social Media, by with SRA International

This story is a couple of weeks old, but it merits mentioning because of its implications for how reports of events, both true and untrue, can spread virally over social media.

Two Mexican citizens were arrested in August in Veracruz, accused of spreading false rumors about drug-related violence in their area. The couple used Twitter and Facebook to report kidnappings and shootings at local schools–which were later proven to have never happened. Nonetheless, the reports caused panic in Veracruz. Initial charges of terrorism have since been dropped, though controversy continues to swirl.

As the BBC reports, social networks have increasingly become a primary source for local news on drug-related violence in Mexico. People check Twitter and Facebook before leaving their houses to see if there may be threats of violence in the area. Continue reading »

Australia’s emergency alerting system

On September 13, 2011, in CAP, Featured Posts, by with The Attorney-General's Department, Australian Federal Government

This article is the first of five articles that I plan to contribute during the next 12 months, which will highlight what is happening in Australia with the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP). This article introduces the emergency management system that currently operates in Australia and future topics will cover:

  • What the Australian CAP Profile is seeking to achieve.
  • What process is Australia using to develop the Australian CAP Profile.
  • Lessons Learned during development of the Australian CAP Profile.
  • Australia’s future intentions with CAP. Continue reading »

2 August 2011 –

Thirty-one countries are set to take part next week in a United Nations-backed test of the tsunami early warning system in the North-Eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and connected seas, which have experienced strong seismic activity over the years, although less frequently than in the Pacific Ocean.The warning system was first established in 2005 by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) established under the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).The purpose of the exercise to be conducted on 10 August is “to ensure effective communication between regional and national centres and tsunami warning focal points,” according to a news release issued by UNESCO.

The exercise will include sending test messages via electronic mail, fax and the Global Telecommunication System from the Istanbul Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute (KOERI, Turkey) to all the national centres and tsunami warning focal points in the region.

Continue reading »

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Below is an excerpt from an interesting article about Israel’s new mobile alert system, e-Viglio, which uses cell broadcast technology. The new system was brought about in great part due to experiences during recent wars and the need for a quicker way for the Israeli government to alert citizen about incoming missiles.

Testing on the new system begins in June 2011 and plans are in place to launch it soon after. Currently government agencies are still ironing out regulatory issues and there are of course concerns regarding the time it takes to issue an alert and the fact that some some people still do not use cell phones.

The sound of air raid sirens will become a thing of Israel’s past starting some time next year, to be replaced by mass text messages delivered to every cell phone in the probable target area.

The new system, developed by Israel’s Home Front Command and high tech start-up called e-Vigilo, and being deployed in conjunction with the country’s cellular operators, will alert users about incoming rockets in a matter of seconds, said Lt. Col. Levi Ittah, head of the project for Israel’s Home Front Command. It will offer faster and more pinpointed warnings than ever before, he said.

“The system’s potential is virtually limitless,” Ittah told The Media Line. “In the future, it could be used by police or emergency medical services. It could alert citizens about any kind of disaster, including earthquakes or other environmental catastrophes.”

Rockets have emerged as the key weapon for Israel’s most implacable foes – the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip and Hizbullah in Lebanon – neither of which can field conventional forces but aim to win future conflicts by threatening Israel’s civilian population with barrages.

Israel experienced a taste of conflicts to come when the Lebanese Shiite Hizbullah organization showered northern Israel with some 4,000 rockets during the month-long Lebanon War in 2006. On Tuesday, Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi warned that Israel may need to evacuate cities and towns in a future conflict with Hamas or Hizbullah. Some reports estimates that Hizbullah has built a stockpile of 40,000 rockets while Hamas has sought to upgrade its smaller arsenal with more powerful and longer-range missiles.

Employing technology called cell broadcast, which is already in use by Israel’s four mobile operators, the warning will be sent to clients in a given geographical area defined by local cell sites. Testing of the system is set to begin in June 2011 and it is expected to go into operational use several months later.

Ittah said cell phones will vibrate, flash and send a text message, possibly in several languages, immediately alerting users of the looming danger, ensuring that people don’t miss the message. Cell phone users will get an alert between 10 to 20 seconds from the time the warning is released by the Israel Defense Forces.

Israel’s Communications Ministry is working on the regulatory and legal aspects of the new innovation, Ittah said.

“This program is part of our vision of pinpointed warning,” Ittah added. “In the future, we hope to eliminate the country’s warning regions, which send out broad alerts, and focus on the exact area of danger.”

Ittah added that in the first operational stage the system will back-up the standard air-raid siren, but the plan is that it will eventually become the primary system in the future. Already about seven million of Israel’s 10 million registered cellular phones support the technology needed for the alert system.

To read the entire article please click here.

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