Maldives is a country with an estimated population of 309,575 (August 2008), 312,527 active mobile SIMs, two mobile operators, and complete cellular coverage of all inhabited atolls, including most of the internal ferry and shipping routes (only a little bit in the one and a half degree channel in not covered, and plans are afoot to give coverage there too). It was also the worst affected in terms of property loss in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami on a per capita basis. It is also one of the countries most dependent on tourism revenues.
Of all the South Asian countries, it is best positioned to exploit the potential of cell broadcasting both for early warning and for commercial applications. In this light, LIRNEasia was pleased to be invited to conduct a scoping study on cell broadcasting for both public-service and commercial purposes by the Telecom Authority of the Maldives. As part of that activity, we organized, in collaboration with TAM, a workshop with the participation of Mark Wood (CEASa International) and Harsha Purasinghe (MicroImage), two people who have worked on implementing (not just talking about) cell broadcasting for the past few years.
Mark talked about the change in the environment for cell broadcasting following the US rule that any mobile device that was incapable of delivering public warning would have to be labeled as such and the greater enthusiasm displayed by the EU following the successful trials in the Netherlands. Harsha described the innovative work done by his team together with Dialog Telekom and the University of Moratuwa on developing DEWN. The commercial applications of cell broadcasting (location-based) services are also seen to be quite significant and attractive in and of themselves.
LIRNEasia was very pleased to see the high levels of enthusiasm among the participants and is confident that with timely follow through the Maldives can become the Asian leader in providing security to both its citizens and its guests through effective early warning.