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DoT to launch SMS alert system in J&K, Ladakh for emergencies

People in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh will soon have ‘new safety messaging’ with ‘warning sounds’ and ‘auto-readout alerts’ to warn them about emergency situations, an official said.

The feature is the consequence of a Cell Broadcast Alert System (CBAS), successfully conducted by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) recently.

“The tests have been conducted. These trials have resulted in a unique alert system that differentiates itself from the regular SMS tones… It has a separate tone, not a normal SMS tone. The audio is high,” Additional Director General (ADG) Telecom, Jammu & Kashmir, Vijay Kumar Surendra told PTI.

The high-pitched audio alerts are designed to capture people’s attention swiftly, enabling rapid responses to incidents such as earthquakes, flash floods, terrorist attacks, epidemics, and law and order issues, Surendra said.

The ADG emphasised that these features aim to send warnings immediately in order to prevent loss of life and property.

“The technical capabilities have been enhanced, so that the message of disaster management is immediately delivered to all the mobile users in one go, so that the warning time is minimised,” he said.

The License Service Area (LSA) in Jammu and Kashmir serves as the testing ground for this large-scale cell broadcasting initiative, to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of emergency alert broadcasting across various mobile operators and cell broadcast systems.

“The LSA is conducting these tests. The messaging has a speciality in that it will identify an area. The message will be delivered to all the mobile users of that area. The alert will warn them about the potential dangers,” the ADG said.

The CBAS is a cutting-edge technology that enables the dissemination of critical and time-sensitive disaster management information to all mobile devices within a specified geographical area, regardless of whether the recipients are residents or visitors.

The approach ensures that crucial emergency information reaches as many people as possible pronto, making it invaluable for government agencies and emergency services, the DoT officials said.

“Cell Broadcast is widely used for delivering emergency alerts, including severe weather warnings, public safety messages, evacuation notices, and other vital information,” they added.

Arun Aggrawal, a senior DoT officer, stressed India’s need for innovative solutions to address its vulnerability to floods, emphasising that cell broadcasting has the potential to save lives and minimise the effects of a disaster.

Officials said the messaging system is not in operation anywhere in India and is in the testing phase.

Testing of the service was done for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir circle by BSNL here, they said.

According to BSNL – the main service Provider in the region – it will charge no money to mobile users for the service, which is completely run by the disaster management setup and service providers.

DoT official A K Tripathi said the service is likely to be launched by the Prime Minister after the completion of trials and testing all over the country. PTI

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