COAG commits to fire warning

system

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The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has agreed to set up a national telephone emergency warning system to which the Federal Government has committed up to $15 million.

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The system, which gained importance after the high death toll of the Victorian fires earlier this year, will send warning alerts — recorded voice and SMS — to people based on the billing address of the subscriber.

It was not technically possible as yet to send alerts depending on the location of people’s mobile phones, according to Prime Minister Rudd, but he said that COAG had committed to undertake research with industry so that it could be done.

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The system will be operational by October 2009 according to the COAG communiqué. An open tender process will be held to find a suitable developer. When completed, it will be operated by the State and Territory authorities.

Telstra said it was continuing discussions with the governments and authorities at the states and federal level on the matter.

The government had come under fire [PARDON THE PUN] over the lack of a warning system after it was revealed that a system had already been trialled, but that the government had not managed to work towards putting it into place, reportedly due to its high $20 million price tag.

Another related government tender to build a secure database, which could provide access to the necessary telephone numbers while protecting individuals’ identities, closed this week.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 1st May 2009

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