Victoria says location-based alerts a success during bushfires

The state has used the system 10 times during the January emergency.

Australia’s emergency alert system has “performed well” in Victoria during this month’s bushfires, according to the Victoria Office of the Emergency Services Commissioner (OESC).

“Emergency Alert has been used extensively during the recent emergencies in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia,” an OESC spokeswoman told Computerwold Australia.

Victoria successfully used the emergency alert system 10 times during this month’s bushfires, she said. The system can send up to 500 text messages per second and 1000 voice messages per minute to people in the viscinity of an emergency such as a bushfire.

However, some bushfire victims in the state have complained that they did not receive timely SMS messages about the danger. Victoria acting premier Peter Ryan yesterday said those people may not have fallen within the selected area for the location-based warning.

The OESC spokeswoman said the location-based upgrade to the emergency alert system has been a success since its launch on 20 November last year.

Since the enhancement, more than 160 campaigns “have been created with a total of more 1.5 million messages sent successfully, of which nearly 600,000 SMS were issued to service addresses (Telstra/Optus/Vodafone) and nearly 600,000 SMS sent via Telstra's location based system,” she said.

But she warned that citizens should not rely on the telephone-based alert system alone to avoid danger.

“A telephone alerting system is just one way emergency service organisations can warn a community and it will not be used in all circumstances,” said the OESC spokeswoman.

“People should be adequately prepared in the event of an emergency, continue to use a range of information sources and stay aware of local conditions.”

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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