The use of mobile technologies in Public Alerting


This paper aims at describing the state of the art regarding the use of mobile technologies in Public Warning Systems (PWS) and introducing Intersec Alerting Solution.

Context: two dominant technologies for alerting coexist on the market

The huge adoption of mobile phones all over the world is providing a great opportunity for governments to better inform population during emergency situations, by sending a message to all handsets that are in the hazardous zone. In order to do so, several technologies can be used.

In 2006 the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) produced a report on mobile-based technologies that became the basis for an emergency messaging service. The report suggested several mobile technologies (Paging, CBS, SMS, TV, MBMS, MMS, USSD, Email, IM Service) and concluded that Cell Broadcast Service (CBS) and Short Message Service (SMS) were among the most suitable technologies for delivering a mobile-driven PWS.

cell broadcast

Cell Broadcast 

Cell Broadcast, the historical and most widespread choice

How CBS became the standard

Further 3GPP & ETSI reports define more precisely the requirements for a PWS. Although they do not specify which technology has to be used, some CBS characteristics make it particularly interesting:

It uses a dedicated channel, allowing the delivery to millions of people in seconds, without being affected by network congestion (and without causing it). On the contrary, SMS use shared signaling channels and network congestion may lead to delays in delivery.

It can be displayed automatically with no user interaction and with a special ringtone, making the CBS message instantly recognizable as an alert (unlike the SMS).

When Japan decided to implement its Earthquake and Tsunami Warning System (ETWS) in 2007 it chose CBS for its delivery speed. This aspect is indeed very important for earthquake warning, where the alert message has to be sent in the short time lapse (a few tens of seconds) between the first non-destructive waves and the real earthquake. The Japanese system was then formalized in 3GPP standards, setting the rule for future implementations.

Several countries have since followed Japan’s example and chosen CBS for their PWS, including Israel, Chile, the USA, Romania, Lithuania, Philippines, New Zealand, South Korea, Peru, Thailand,  United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands.

CBS limitations

However, CBS has one main limitation: it is not supported by all handsets and even when it is supported it requires a manual configuration from the user.

This means that it does not reach everybody. During a test conducted in the Netherlands in November 2013 many people complained on Twitter that they did not receive the message .

This was supposed to be a temporary issue but cell broadcast penetration among handsets proved to be slower than expected. As of today it is still unclear how many years will be needed before all handsets can receive CBS messages. Based on Homeland Security study on WEA mobile penetration , we can assume that from the time a country decides to implement CBS alerts, 5 to 10 years will be needed before a large percentage of the population (more than 90%) have a compatible device.

Moreover, the need for a manual configuration remains an issue, as a lot of people are still not familiar with the procedure, which can further postpone the date at which 90% of the population will actually receive the alerts.

SMS, historically second-best choice, has recently been chosen by several countries

For that reason and following recent technology improvements more and more countries are considering geo-targeted SMS as a viable option for mass-alerting. And that is how SMS, despite its limitations, is coming back on stage, maximizing the reach of the alerting campaign as all handsets natively support SMS, without requiring any configuration.

Australia was the first country to make this choice, in 2009, and today claims a rate of 93% of successful SMS delivery . SMS systems have also been deployed in Norway and Belgium, and a trial in the UK in 2013 concluded that location-based SMS was the preferred solution over CBS.

SMS overcame CBS

SMS overcame CBS 

In addition to solving the reach issue, SMS offers several advantages, such as:

  • It is less expensive and quicker to implement, as much of the infrastructure is already in place,
  • It gives a proof of delivery, insuring governments and MNOs against all liability in case of accidents,
  • It unlocks the possibility to personalize the message (e.g. the language) on a per-user basis.

However, SMS keeps the aforementioned limitations:

  • Network congestion may lead to delays in delivery,
  • A standard SMS may not be identified immediately as urgent

CBS-SMS comparative analysis: what to keep in mind

The following table summarizes the main advantages and drawbacks of the two technologies:

geo-targeted sms vs cbs

Geo-targeted sms vs CBS 

CBS and SMS are often considered as rival technologies for PWS. However, a closer look at their ad-vantages and drawbacks reveals some complementarities, meaning that using them together will solve most issues that each technology faces when used alone.

Intersec approach: combine CBS and SMS to maximize both reach and delivery speed of PWS

Intersec approach can be summarized in two key points:

  • Combine CBS and SMS channels to maximize both reach and delivery speed with advanced network congestion prevention mechanisms
  • Take advantage of our unique geofencing technology, which is both real-time and mass-scale, for advanced population movement monitoring and increased efficiency in crisis management.
    Intersec has a proven track of records for Cell Broadcast and Igloo technologies in about 15 countries covering several hundred million people. Major deployments include various affiliates in Orange Group, Weve (joint venture of EE, O2 and Vodafone in the UK) and Telefonica Group in Europe and Latin America.

Maximizing reach & time to inform everybody effectively

Intersec multi-channel approach allows to maximize both reach and delivery speed by:

  • Using CBS to inform CB activated handsets rapidly. Intersec CBS is particularly relevant in a context of PWS: it is network agnostic (2G/3G/4G), PWS standards compliant (CAP/ATIS), and includes smart network congestion mechanisms.
  • Sending SMS as a complement: first to people with a non CB compatible device and then to CB compatible devices in case CB was not configured or activated.

Moreover, Intersec solution uses real-time monitoring of subscribers density and statistics of successful delivery reports to optimize delivery timeline and which areas get alerted first. This way the delivery can benefit from the additional word of mouth effect, accelerating efficiently the spread of the alerting.

Maximizing successfulness of SMS delivery

Network congestion may cause delay in SMS delivery during emergency situations. Intersec solution implements several features designed to minimize this effect, such as:

sms delivery

  • Using our Plateforme as a cache to offload network elements such as HLR,
  • Leveraging on subscriber connection state to maximize First Delivery Attempt success,
  • Prioritizing the SMS alerting traffic over the user P2P traffic,
  • Using real-time monitoring of RAN / core network nodes load information to ensure SMS delivery across congested networks.

Increasing campaign effectiveness

GeoSafe offers two unique capabilities that allow increasing the effectiveness of an alerting campaign:
The ability to manage lists of people, to know who has been alerted,
A mass-scale real-time view over the location of all subscribers on the network.

These features increase crisis management efficiency by:

  • Sending personalized messages in the language of the subscriber,
  • Optimizing the evacuation plan by sending appropriate directions to different groups of population in the same area,
  • Monitoring the effects of the campaign in real-time (using heat maps and statistics about population movements) to adapt quickly to changing circumstances.

It also allows to communicate with the alerted population after the crisis even if they have left the area, which was identified as a key issue by Francis Markus – East Asia spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) – who commented after the Fukushima event in Japan that “the conditions faced by those displaced were made worse by them not knowing when they can return.”
Intersec provides a consolidated future proof solution, which:

  • Is 100% telco grade, highly performant and supports virtualization,
  • Maximizes the reach towards the population,
  • Integrates unique and compelling functionalities for PWS for increased crisis management and population safety.

Source: https://www.intersec.com/mobile-technologies-in-public-alerting

Anúncios

Cell broadcast alerting on track for late 2017


Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says the implementation of a new nationwide channel for sending alerts about emergencies to mobile phones is on track to be up and running by the end of the year.

Cell broadcast alerting is a new way of sending information to mobile phones in a set area without people needing to download an app or subscribe to a service.

“The alerts will appear similar to text messages. They are received automatically and for free by all cell broadcast enabled mobile phones in the area,” Mr Brownlee says.

“Discussions with New Zealand’s major telecommunications companies are progressing well and we expect to have contracts signed in the coming weeks.

“Once the cell broadcast alerting system is up and running, an alert will be sent out to mobile phones through the cell towers in the affected areas in the event of an emergency.

“As no technology is 100 per cent failsafe or equally useful in all conditions and emergencies, multiple channels will continue to be used to send alerts when emergencies happen.

“These channels include radio, television, websites, various social media, smartphone apps, sirens and others.

“A range of alerting methods were assessed before cell broadcast was chosen but this system gives the best combination of reach and reliability in New Zealand’s conditions.

“It will get information about an emergency to at-risk communities faster and more reliably than ever before. Plus, cell broadcast technology is not vulnerable to network overloading, so even when the networks get busy after a disaster, alerts can still be sent quickly.

“The system is well established elsewhere in the world in counties such as the US, Japan, Israel, Chile, the Netherlands and Taiwan.

“Countries including Canada, Peru, the UAE and the Philippines are in the process of implementing cell broadcast alerting.

“The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management and the three mobile network operators – 2degrees, Vodafone and Spark – are working together to enable cell broadcast technology in New Zealand for the first time.

“The Ministry is working alongside the Fire Service, Police, Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industries to develop a system that will work for the whole of government.

“Cell broadcast alerts don’t replace the need for people to pay attention to natural warnings, which is particularly important in the case of earthquakes and potential tsunamis,” Mr Brownlee says.

Source: https://www.national.org.nz/cell_broadcast_alerting_on_track_for_late_2017

Israel to use cell phone alert system for rocket attacks


The IDF says that, in two years, Israeli citizens will receive cell-phone alerts in case of a rocket attack by Iran, Hamas, or Hezbollah; sophisticated rocket sensor will calculate the trajectory of the rockets, predict the impact zone, and send a warning to all phones in that area

Within two years, the Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) Home Front Command will install a rocket alert system in Israel that will be able to calculate the precise location of an impact zone, and alert residents in an affected neighborhood via their cell phones, a senior officer told the Jerusalem Post last week.

Col. Dr. Chilik Soffer, head of the Population Department at the Home Front Command, said last week that advanced rocket sensors would soon have the ability to calculate the projectile’s exact trajectory. “The rocket sensor will create a virtual ellipse [of the predicted impact zone], and all phones in that area will receive a warning,” he added. “We will use communications technology to send the signals, and we are now working with the Communications Ministry to make the alert available,” Soffer said.

Jerusalem Post’s Yaakov Lappin writes that the alert will take four forms: A cell phone vibration, audio alert, light flash, or text message.

Currently, air raid sirens are programmed to identify and alert cities that are at risk of rocket attacks following a hostile launch. “The more specific the alert, the more ready people will be,” Soffer added. He noted that the technology available to the Home Front Command has come a long way since the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraqi Scud missile attacks set off air-raid sirens across the whole country. “There are 1,260 communities in Israel. There is no longer a need to set off a nationwide alert,” he said.

Soffer estimated that the total amount of rocket-delivered explosives possessed by Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas is no more than 3,000 tons. “For the sake of comparison, 3,000 tons of explosives were dropped in one day during the Dresden bombing raid in World War II,” he said.

Soffer stressed that the estimate did not take into account the IDF’s ability to destroy rocket and missile launchers, or air defense and missile shield programs that are currently in operation, like the Arrow 2 ballistic missile defense system.

Soffer said that 90 percent of the civilian casualties sustained by Israel during the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead in Gaza involved people who were struck by projectiles while they were in open areas away from buildings. Civilians who seek cover in designated safe zones during rocket attacks are not likely to be wounded or killed, he added.

Soffer noted that during the Gaza war, 95 percent of people polled in the South, where the rockets hit, expressed full confidence in the Home Front Command, and stressed that major improvements have been made since the Second Lebanon War.

He addressed criticisms directed at the Home Front Command’s largest-ever civil defense exercise, Turning Point 3, which was held in June. Some observers said the general population was not sufficiently involved in the exercise, in which mock air-raid sirens went off across the country.

According to a poll conducted by the Home Front Command, 46 percent to 60 percent of the general public drilled an evacuation to a safe zone when they heard the siren, with some regional discrepancies in the results.