Emergency Cell Broadcast System

Summary

An actual Emergency Cell Broadcast on an iOS smartphone in Filipino, indicating a Heavy Rainfall Warning in Metro Manila and nearby Rizal province.

Emergency Cell Broadcast System (ECBS) is an alert broadcast system in the Philippines, designed to disseminate emergency alerts and warnings to mobile devices via cell broadcast services (CBS)[1]

Telecommunications companies and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) are both mandated and required by law to send free mobile alerts before disasters happen.[2]

Background

The alert broadcast system was implemented in compliance with the Republic Act 10639, also known as the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act. The legislation was signed on June 20, 2014[3] and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) were released on July 21, 2015.[4] Initially only SMS or text messages were used to alert the public regarding emergencies and disasters.

The Emergency Cell Broadcast System (ECBS) was launched on March 13, 2017 by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and Smart Communications.[5]

Information transmission capabilities

  • Critical information that affected communities can use to prepare for and respond to disasters
  • Contact information of authorities and responders in affected areas
  • Information on evacuation centers, relief sites, and pick-up points
  • Up-to-date information provided by state weather bureau PAGASA, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PhiVolcs), and NDRRMC

Mechanism

Emergency alerts disseminated through this system are crafted by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council with inputs from other government agencies. The NDRRMC is limited on the number of characters it can use for each emergency alert message. A computer program made for the system is used to create and send the message.[5]

The system is location-specific, meaning a message is sent by designating an area where mobile phones within it shall receive the emergency alert. In contrast, the SMS-based emergency alert broadcast system is sent to devices through their mobile phone numbers which meant that the NDDRMC had to send emergency alert messages through telecommunications service providers. The process of the SMS-based system could take hours.[5]

References

  1. ^ Tomacruz, Sofia (24 July 2018). "How NDRRMC issues its emergency mobile warnings". Rappler. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  2. ^ "Telecommunication companies test emergency alert systems". Rappler. 28 January 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  3. ^ de la Cruz, Gwen (27 February 2015). "Will the free mobile disaster alerts law finally be implemented?". Rappler. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  4. ^ Ramos-Araneta, Macon (22 October 2016). "Where were telcos during storm—Poe". Manila Standard. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Legaspi, Amita (14 March 2017). "NDRRMC, Smart roll out emergency cell broadcast system nationwide". GMA News (in English and Filipino). Retrieved 13 August 2018.