The MIT Technology Review is taken seriously by many people, especially those who see technology as part of the policy solution mix. When it more or less endorses cell broadcasting as an effective public warning technology, citing our work to boot, we cannot but be pleased.
The technology is also being tested in a very different part of the world in which disaster may strike with very little warning: Israel. EViglio is working on an SMS-CB system that will warn residents of incoming rockets within seconds after they have been fired. Testing of the system will begin in June 2011.
Cell broadcast systems are also being tested or deployed in a number of other locations around the world. The Maldives, a collection of low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean with nearly 300,000 inhabitants, will be rolling out an SMS-CB system to warn of “tsunamis, earthquakes, flash floods, tidal waves, thunderstorms, tornadoes and waterspouts, strong winds, and drought.” The Netherlands and parts of the U.S. including Florida and other gulf coast states, New York City, and Houston are also working on their own systems, according to U.S. firm CellCast technologies.
This technology does have some obvious disadvantages — for one, not everyone carries their cell phones on them at all times. Compared to other solutions, however, it could prove useful: sirens can’t convey information with anything close to the specificity of a text message, and television and radio can only push messages when they’re in use.