Countries with Cell Broadcast PWS (Public Warning Service)


2009 – Japan
2009 – Sri Lanka
2012 – Netherlands
2012 – Lithuania
2012 – Turkey
2012 – Chile
2012 – USA
2014 – Taiwan
2014 – South Korea
2015 – Russia
2016 – Philippines
2016 – United Arabic Emirates
2017 – New Zealand
2018 – Romania
2018 – Canada
2018 – Oman
2019 – Greece

Source: https://twitter.com/RutErdelyi/status/1116243985339695104

 

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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

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

Cellular Technology That Told Japan An Earthquake Was Coming


Cell broadcast’ technology is a largely dormant part of many cell phone network standards.

Imagem Postada

Are cell towers the future of the emergency broadcast system?

Japanese who carry phones serviced by NTT Docomo, Japan’s dominant cell phone carrier, can opt to have alerts about earthquakes pushed directly to their phones. The technology that makes this possible, the Area Mail Disaster Information Service, is designed to deliver detailed alerts as quickly as possible.

This service is uniquely enabled by a little-known technology known as Cell Broadcast, or SMS-CB. It’s totally unlike traditional, point-to-point SMS, in that it can be broadcast directly from cell towers to every phone in range and does not use more bandwidth when sent to more users. In this way it’s just like a over-the-air television or radio, where bandwidth requirements do not increase as more users receive a signal.

This is extremely important in the event of a disaster: According to Israeli SMS-CB company eViglio, cell broadcast has the potential to reach millions of users in seconds in an inherently geo-targeted fashion, whereas trying to reach the same number of users via traditional SMS would swamp the network, slowing the delivery of messages to a crawl.

Tsunami Alerts Not Yet Implemented

It appears that Japan’s Area Mail Disaster Information Service has not yet been equipped to warn of tsunamis. The abstract of an eerily prescient paper from 2009, “A Proposal of Tsunami Warning System Using Area Mail Disaster Information Service on Mobile Phones” opens with the line:

The earthquake with the seismic center around the coast of Miyagi prefecture and the oceanic trench of southern Sanriku is expected to occur with high probability. […] Consequently, a system is required that prefectures, cities, towns and villages collect swiftly and accurately the tsunami monitoring information that is necessary for evacuation behavior, relief and recovery activities, and deliver and share to the local residents.

Sendai, the city most profoundly devastated by last week’s tsunami, is in Miyagi prefecture — the same one mentioned in the abstract. Residents there had only minutes between when they felt the earthquake and the arrival of the first wave of the tsunami. Rohan Samarajiva, an expert on early warning systems for natural disasters, argues that for the people of Sendai, no early warning system would have been sufficient, and only building codes and general disaster preparedness would be of any use.

People more distant from the epicenter of the quake could benefit from cell broadcasting, however, and the technology has also been proposed as a means to coordinate relief efforts without bringing down the network.

Cell Broadcast Warnings for Rocket Attacks, Natural Disasters

The technology is also being tested in a very different part of the world in which disaster may strike with very little warning: Israel. EViglio is working on an SMS-CB system that will warn residents of incoming rockets within seconds after they have been fired. Testing of the system will begin in June 2011.

Cell broadcast systems are also being tested or deployed in a number of other locations around the world. The Maldives, a collection of low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean with nearly 300,000 inhabitants, will be rolling out an SMS-CB system to warn of “tsunamis, earthquakes, flash floods, tidal waves, thunderstorms, tornadoes and waterspouts, strong winds, and drought.” The Netherlands and parts of the U.S. including Florida and other gulf coast states, New York City, and Houston are also working on their own systems, according to U.S. firm CellCast technologies.

This technology does have some obvious disadvantages — for one, not everyone carries their cell phones on them at all times. Compared to other solutions, however, it could prove useful: sirens can’t convey information with anything close to the specificity of a text message, and television and radio can only push messages when they’re in use.

What If Cell Broadcast Were Already Widely Deployed?

CellCast Technologies offers a number of historical examples (pdf) in which the technology could have been useful:

When a freight train derailment near Minot, North Dakota, in 2002 spilled anhydrous ammonia and sent up a cloud of poison gas, a public warning over radio was not broadcast for nearly 90 minutes. The designated emergency announcement station’s single employee on duty could not be reached because phone lines were jammed by residents calling in. Authorities tried activating the radio’s Emergency Alert System, but the EAS failed. What if Minot citizens could have received an emergency message on their cell phones warning them of this toxic danger and appropriate directives to safety?

A similar what-if scenario could be imagined for the events of March 11, 2011. What if citizens further down the coast from Sendai had received an automatic SMS-CB alert, generated by Japan’s elaborate tsunami warning system? Until the issue has been addressed by experts, we won’t know the answer.