Optus has become the third telco to join a national emergency alert program, agreeing to distribute location-based text messages to subscribers during emergencies.
The National Emergency Alert System represented a $60 million Federal Government investment. Telstra joined the program in January while Vodafone joined earlier this month.
The new agreements were expected to enhance Australia’s existing SMS warning system, which currently notified users of disasters in the vicinity of their registered addresses.
New, location-based functionality would allow emergency services to target people within a given area.
Victorian Premier Peter Ryan expected Telstra customers — accounting for approximately 45 percent of all mobile subscribers in Australia — to be on the new, location-based system by December.
Customers of Vodafone and Optus would be on the new system “ahead of the 2013/14 fire season”, he said. The move would cover all mobile subscribers in Australia.
“Getting emergency warnings out effectively during a natural disaster is absolutely critical, I’m pleased Optus has come on board to do this,” Attorney-General and emergency management minister, Nicola Roxon, said in a statement.
“In a world first, highly targeted location based emergency warnings will be used during disasters across Australia by the end of next year.
“It means Australian mobile phone users will be able to get these warnings if they’re in a disaster area — this system won’t only rely upon their registered address.”
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