June 6, 2009

Mobile Phone to Send Early Warning of Natural Disaster

The government has opted for cell-phone broadcast technology to send early warning of natural disaster to the countrymen with a view to minimizing disaster risk and loss of life.People living in all corners of the country, having cell-phone connectivity, will be able to get early warning about cyclone and other natural calamities. The cell-phone subscribers would automatically see the alert message on the phone screen without going to any option.

To enable cell broadcast you have to go through message settings of your mobile phone and select cell broadcast to “on”. Different handsets may have different option but almost all of them are capable to cell broadcast. Few years back, some mobile operators enabled cell broadcast and at that time people could see in which base station he is currently in. Also one of the mobile operators offered special tariff in Dhaka University area and cell broadcast was used to determine the position of the caller. (Not sure still that package exists or not)

Two separate memorandum of understanding (MoUs) were signed on June 4 by the Disaster Management Bureau (DMB) with GrameenPhone and TeleTalk Bangladesh Ltd to launch the pilot project. After the signing ceremony at the conference room of Food and Disaster Management Ministry, Minister Razzaque said this service would initially be available for the people of Cox's Bazar and Sirajganj districts who are the subscribers of GP and TeleTalk. He said if the six-month pilot project is found to be successful, the service will be extended to the whole country through bringing all mobile phone operators under a similar deal.

Replying to a question, Dr Razzaque said subscribers would be able to see early warning on the handset screen and they will not be charged for it. "The language of the message will be in English," he said adding that people are educated enough to find out simple meaning of the message. He said awareness should be created among the people especially those living in coastal region and it would be a major tool to face any disaster.Dr Razzaque emphasized on campaign and motivation programs on the initiative so that people could get early warning easily and understand the alert-message, which will be displayed on their cell-phone screen before any natural disaster.


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