Radio broadcast tsunami alert

People could receive a radio broadcast message on their cell phones warning them of tsunami – if Government plans go ahead. But it may take some time.

Ministry of Civil Defence operations manager David Coetzee says though the message will appear as a text – it is transmitted like a radio broadcast to reach more people at one time.

Government is looking at sending a tsunami warning, to be sent by radio broadcast to cell phones.

“We won’t be looking at text messaging per say. The concept that we will be exploring is cell broadcasting, which looks like a text message when it ends up on somebody’s phone – but it’s actually something different, in terms of the technology behind it.

“With cell broadcasting, because of the different frequency, and it’s a different technology all together, you don’t have the problem [of it not reaching people].

“It’s just being pumped out like a radio broadcast and all the cell phones within the reception radius of the towers, that are targeted, will get it regardless if they’ve got a phone on Telecom or 2degrees.”

However, David says the technology will take time to implement, as mobile phones in New Zealand do not have the capacity to receive or send multiple messages at one time.

“The infrastructure does not exist,” says David.

The technology is currently being used in other countries around the world, including United States and Netherlands. A similar process has also been implemented in Australia.

Discussions are still being made as to when the technology will be implemented in New Zealand –and David did not know how much it would cost.

The Papamoa Progressive Association in the Bay of Plenty has been campaigning for action on tsunami sirens and acting chair Steve Morris says the multi-message alert is a good idea. However, it should not be relied upon as the only tsunami warning measure.

“It’s a really good cost effective way of getting messages out however it shouldn’t be relied upon as the only warning measure because you can have problems with technology a delay in the message being received and also people don’t always have their communication devices on all the time.”



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