On Tuesday morning, many mobile users in India received an emergency alert from the government. The alert was sent around 11:35 with a flash message and an emergency tone across Android and iPhone devices. However, there is no need to be alarmed. The alert was part of a test of the country’s new emergency alert system, which is being deployed by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
The emergency alerts were sent to a random sample of smartphones across India, and it caused users’ phones to emit a loud beep and display a flash message that read “emergency alert: severe.” The message was sent twice, once in English and once in Hindi, a few minutes apart.
According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) the alert was part of a test to assess the effectiveness of the alert system and to identify any potential problems. The message was sent between 11:30 PM and 11:44 PM IST through the Cell Broadcasting System (CBS). The message informed recipients that it was a test and that no action was required.
“This is a SAMPLE TESTING MESSAGE sent through Cell Broadcasting System by Department of Telecommunication, Government of India. Please ignore this message as no action is required from your end. This message has been sent to test Pan-India Emergency Alert System being implemented by National Disaster Management Authority. It aims to enhance public safety and provide timely alerts during emergencies. Timestamp: 10-10-2023 11:30 AM 11,” reads the flash message.
Notably, the CBS is a technology that allows mobile operators to send text messages to all phones in a specific area, regardless of the mobile network that the phone is on. This makes it an ideal technology for sending emergency alerts.
The NDMA is conducting these tests to ensure that the alert system is working properly and that it can be used to reach people in the event of a real emergency. The tests also help the NDMA to identify any areas where the system needs to be improved.
A similar flash message was sent to many users a few weeks ago. The Department of Telecommunications Cell Broadcasting System (DoT CBS) has announced that they plan to conduct similar tests periodically in various regions. These tests are intended to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of mobile operators’ emergency warning broadcast capabilities and cell broadcast systems.
C-DOT’s CEO, Rajkumar Upadhyay, earlier informed that the technology for cell broadcast is currently only available from foreign vendors, so C-DOT is developing its own. He said that cell broadcast is still under development, but NDMA will use it to send alerts directly to mobile phone screens during disasters. It is currently being tested on the Jio and BSNL networks. “The cell broadcast technology is under development and will be utilized by NDMA to send alerts directly to mobile phone screens during disasters. It is currently undergoing testing on the Jio and BSNL networks,” he told PTI.
He further mentioned that there are various versions of the cell broadcast messages that need to be developed for propagation through the telecom network. India Today