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How one Dutch company created Civil Defence's emergency alert system

15 Feb 2018

The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management chose Dutch company one2many as its provider of a national Wireless Emergency Alert System – the same system that conducted tests last November and earlier in October.

The system allows the government to send out mobile alerts to at-risk communities about critical emergencies and threats to life, health and property.

“In a country where emergencies such as natural disasters are all too common, it’s essential we have multiple robust and reliable means of alerting the public to threats,” comments Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management manager of capability and operations, David Coetzee.

“One2many is currently the only company in the world able to provide a best-in-class, end-to-end wireless emergency alert solution,” adds one2many managing director Maarten Mes.

Our innovative cloud-based technology, which has been developed by in-house engineers, draws on decades of emergency alert experience to deliver governments and mobile operators with a reliable, secure and geo-targeted means of protecting their citizens. This significant implementation in New Zealand highlights our leadership in this domain and we are proud to have delivered this important project for the country within the tight timelines," Mes continues.

There are two parts to one2many’s platform so far: a Public Warning Portal cloud service and a cell broadcast system for telco providers.

The Public Warning Portal was built specifically for the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) and includes a mobile alert creation and management system, as well as automatic alert generation.

The company says automatic alert generation will enable swift alerts for emergencies like earthquakes and tsunamis.

The Cell Broadcast System operates in telco operators’ private clouds. Operators include 2degrees, Spark and Vodafone.

One2many’s software integrates with MCDEM’s Public Warning Portal and enables emergency broadcast alerts to 3G and 4G mobile subscribers in the vicinity of an emergency.

The platform integrates without the use of an application: if a user’s phone is on, capable of receiving emergency alerts and is inside the warning area, it’s likely they will receive the alert.

According to statistics from MCDEM, last November's trial was successful. Director Sarah Stuart-Black explains:

“We predicted that about a third of Kiwis would receive the first test message, and that’s proven to be spot on. That number increases to around half of Kiwis when you include people who were near somebody who received an alert. It’s an encouraging start, and we know those numbers are set to increase substantially as people replace their handsets over time."

MCDEM also conducted a study that showed 66% of New Zealanders were aware of the Emergency Mobile Alert system before the test took place and 72% believe it will be an effective way of notifying people in an emergency.

One2many will manage its cloud-based system for the government for up to 12 years and will likely add future alert channel integration from channels such as social media, TV and radio without compromising the system’s reliability.

 “One2many met all our stringent demands for this contract and are delivering a managed cloud service that’s easy-to-use, secure and comprehensive. Importantly, one2many proved they could meet our exceptionally short delivery timeframe. We’re very happy that the system launched successfully last November 26, and will help us and other agencies to continue to improve the safety of our communities,” Coetzee concludes.

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