Monday, November 28, 2005

SMS Replaces Radio for Warnings?

Some of the regional public broadcasters in the Netherlands have a special status in this country because they would work with emergency services in case of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. They are seen as "emergency sources".

I guess their status will come up for review since these networks only tend to appeal to older listeners. The police forces are working on SMS alert systems for the public, which they clearly think are more effective. After a very successful SMS alert pilot in a specific neighborhood in Tilburg, the Netherlands, the Dutch police force is now ready to gradually roll out the service to the rest of the Netherlands. The SMS alert combines SMS mobile-technology with the effective eyes and ears of local residents, to offer a service for improving local security and providing a communication system for mobilizing local residents in case of a crisis.

During a special ceremony attended by national press, police forces, the major and other dignitaries, corps chef Frans Heeres officially launched the service, by sending an SMS with his postal code to the dedicated shortcode 8844.

Currently the service has over 2500 inhabitants subscribed to the service and was successful on many occasions. Roland van Veen, project leader at West Brabant police force: “During the pilot, which started mid 2004, we have been able to locate 4 missing children after sending out a SMS to all subscribers with their profile and last known location. Also we were able to arrest two men who stole an elderly lady’s electronic wheelchair. Besides this we could notify citizens when there was an active burglar in their residential area or alarm them for other calamities."

Also internationally the project received interest. “Police forces in the US stated that this system could have helped a great deal with warning citizens about the Katrina hurricane”, comments corps chef Heeres.

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