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more on wondering what that did for californians AB 2231 Emergency alerts
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Sat, 1 Apr 2006 17:58:00 -0500
Begin forwarded message:
From: Thomas Lakofski <thomas () 88 net>
Date: April 1, 2006 5:19:32 PM EST
To: David Farber <dave () farber net>, Tamara.Odisho () asm ca gov, Paul
Saffo <paul () saffo com>
Subject: Re: [IP] for californians AB 2231 Emergency alerts
I used to work for a mobile company. I'm not an expert but I remember
some aspects of the underlying technologies. This may interest IP too.
From: Paul Saffo <paul () saffo com>
Date: March 31, 2006 12:19:57 AM EST
To: Dave Farber <dave () farber net>
Subject: (For IP) AB 2231 Emergency alerts
Tamara and her colleagues have several questions, and would love
feedback from anyone who might have advice/suggestions. Here are
her questions (note that I have not edited them as I am merely a
1. Can wireless companies? infrastructure handle such a
statewide text-message emergency alert? In other words, will this
jam up the system?
Yes, but probably not with bulk SMS. Despite global SMS volume being
more than a trillion messages globally last year, the way it is
implemented means it is unsuited to sending large volumes of messages in
a confined geographical area.
There is another GSM service, 'cell broadcast' which is supported by the
majority of handsets, which would be appropriate for this purpose.
It would require some setup by the telephone company; both of their
infrastructure as well as subscriber's handsets. This could be done
for new handsets before they reach customers, or could be done without
user intervention by sending a special message to a subscriber's
2. Do wireless providers have the technology to area specify
the emergency alerts, ie, if there?s an earthquake in Los Angeles,
would wireless providers be able to only send out the text message
to Los Angeles residents?
The cell broadcast technology is location specific by nature, and would
be enabled regionally down to the granularity of individual cells. This
may make for some difficulty in rural areas where cells are
wider-spaced, but for the purpose it would seem sufficient.
Even with SMS, LBS (location-based services) have been available for a
number of years. The service does have to be supported by the carrier
and would require integration work for any location-targetted emergency
broadcast system. It would also require a list of subscriber's numbers
which were nominally 'local' for the area to cross-reference against
location data, which is relevant to the next point.
3. Are technological capabilities available to broadcast the
text message to a certain area/region and send the message to
providers not registered in that area code, ie Thailand tsunami had
vacationers from all over the world, if an emergency alert was sent
out, would all vacationers be able to receive the message?
The cell broadcast would require each handset to be configured to
receive the messages per the above, but if this were done the message
would be received by handsets regardless of their origin.
With SMS this would not be impossible, but difficult and potentially
costly to the phone company if they are to alert roamers by sending SMS
to their (potentially international) telephone number.
4. If a wireless company sends out the alert, would they be
limited to a specific number of characters?
Yes. SMS has a limit of 160 characters for plain text messaging, cell
broadcast has a 93 character limit per 'page' but can have multiple
pages. Technical details on the service can be found by searching for
'SMS cell broadcast'.
5. If necessary, would text message be able to be delivered in
I don't see an obvious way to implement this, but one may exist.
6. Do you have an estimated cost to the providers of what this
type of implementation system would cost the providers?
Given its fit for purpose I would expect cell broadcast to be the
simplest and cheapest option. Integration with emergency broadcast
systems, and configuration of subscriber handsets would presumably be
the significant costs for startup. I can't see that running cost would
be anything other than marginal.
Anyone who has suggestions should feel free to contact Tamara
directly at Tamara.Odisho () asm ca gov , or if you prefer, email me
and I will pass your comments on.
Hope this helps,
Thomas Lakofski +4470 9228 8229 'Reality is that which,
gnupg 550C DD74 4C38 FAC2 E870 when you stop believing in it,
1024D/527D151D 360C A37B BB79 527D 151D doesn't go away' --PKD
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- more on wondering what that did for californians AB 2231 Emergency alerts David Farber (Apr 02)