[LINK] itNews: 'Emergency system given geo-location boost'
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Mon Jan 16 10:05:30 EST 2012
At 9:37 +1100 16/1/12, Richard Chirgwin wrote:
> ... I guess lack of a standard for passing mobile
>location indicators between carriers probably matters here.
>I would guess that a behind-the-scenes issue is roaming - having Telstra
>(eg) send these messages to Optus/VHA customers - there's probably some
>kind of wrangling over this.
That's helpful RC, but I still don't get why any mobile location
indicators need to be passed from anyone to anyone else.
Why is the following an inadequate spec:
- emergency warning centre sends message to all mobile services providers
specifying the message to be sent and the geographical coordinates
that are to be targeted
- each mobile service provider computes what cells need to send the
- each cell sends the message to each device currently registered
in that cell
At 8:41 +1000 16/1/12, Greg Taylor wrote:
>If based on current location only, it would miss those whose phone
>was in the area but turned off at the time.
As I understand it, a phone that is merely turned off continues to
send a stream of 'I'm here' messages. (How else would national
security be able to keep tracking people, I mean cars be able to be
found in snowdrifts?).
That all assumes of course that there's no multi-cast facility in the
cell-broadcast specs. If so, then that would be an easier way to do
At 8:41 +1000 16/1/12, Greg Taylor wrote:
>Doesn't it need a combination of both registered address and current location?
>... if your property was in an area likely to be affected by a major
>storm, flood, or bushfire, you'd want to know about
>it even if you were out of the area at the time.
There are arguments for and against that. One against is that people
may be thereby effectively encouraged to flood the area with more
cars and telephone calls, at a time when you want *less* traffic.
Another possibility is an opt-in arrangement for out-of-area mobiles.
>On 16/01/12 8:32 AM, Roger Clarke wrote:
>> [I'm bemused by the report below.
>> [An emergency warning system has to be designed to communicate with
>> people who are in the physical area that's subject to the threat.
>> [The article below suggests that the current system calls mobile
>> phone numbers based on "their registered residential address with the
>> [Every mobile phone cell 'knows' what devices are in-range, because
>> the devices transmit a steady stream of notifications. I understood
>> that the system was designed so that the emergency warning is sent to
>> every device known to be in the cells within the area affected by the
>> [That over-reports ('cries wolf') in the case of threats that affect
>> a very limited area, and in the case of very large cells. But that
>> over-reporting would seem like a reasonable price to pay.
>> [Am I missing something?]
>> Emergency system given geo-location boost
>> John Hilvert
>> Jan 16, 2012 7:16 AM (1 hour ago)
>> The Victorian Government has contracted Telstra to enhance the
>> national Emergency Alert telephone warning system with geo-location
>> technology for mobile users.
>> Under the current national system, SMS alerts can be sent to users
>> only based on their registered residential address with the carrier.
>> Recent emergencies such as a toxic chemical leak in Canberra saw
>> users with residential addresses in the vicinity of the leak warned
>> of danger, even if they were overseas.
>> At the same time, phone users whose registered address was outside
>> the emergency area - but who found themselves in the area that day -
>> failed to receive a warning and risked chemical exposure.
>> Telstra group managing director Paul Geason said geo-location
>> technology is to be added to the emergency warning system in Victoria.
>> "New technology introduced by Telstra pinpoints the location of
>> mobile handsets making it possible for emergency services to quickly
>> send text messages directly to Telstra mobiles irrespective of their
>> service address," he said.
>> "The ability to provide a more accurate prediction of the physical
>> location of a mobile handset via this new location based technology
>> will significantly enhance the capabilities of the emergency alert
>> It is expected to be operating nationally for Telstra customers by
>> the end of the year.
>> The Federal Government is hopeful of similar agreements with Optus
>> and Vodafone that would allow their respective customers to also
>> receive location-based alerts.
>> A spokesman for the Federal Minister for Emergency Management, Robert
>> McClelland, said the carriers were "at the [negotiating] table".
>> The spokesman declined to put a total figure on how much it would
>> cost to introduce geo-location across all networks.
>> In operation since 2009, the Emergency Alert system has been used
>> more than 300 times and sent over seven million warning messages
>> nationally to Australians at times of disaster.
>> Funded substantially by the Federal Government, the $26.5 million
>> system has been criticised in some quarters over its performance;
>> charges that Telstra and the Government deny.
>> A Senate Committee [pdf] has been exploring alleged shortcomings of
>> the current warning system, including its inability to determine the
>> location of mobile handsets in the alert area.
>> The Senate inquiry has led to consideration of other systems and
>> technologies to issue emergency alerts.
>> Terms of Telstra's deal with the Victorian Government were not disclosed.
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Roger Clarke http://www.rogerclarke.com/
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Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Law University of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science Australian National University
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