Text messages could help emergency response - Kelly

Mobile phone text messages could help to improve early warning systems to ensure that the public and emergency services are better prepared for natural disasters, extreme weather events, or unpredictable catastrophes, according to TD for Longford/Westmeath, Peter Kelly.

Deputy Kelly is a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, which recently released a report examining the suitability of using mobile phone text messages as an effective means of providing advance notice to public and emergency services about unanticipated events and emergencies.

“Recent unexpected events like the flooding crises have stressed the need for the State to ensure that modern technology is fully exploited to ensure that citizens and rescue services receive early information in an accessible form,” said Deputy Kelly.

“Unfortunately, we have all seen how extreme weather conditions and unpredictable catastrophes have caused significant and lasting damage to communities and property in areas around the Shannon. While the response of emergency services to the recent flooding in many parts of Ireland was effective and in some cases heroic, the inability to accurately and effectively warn the public of predictable damage was a major failing.

“Clearly, the earlier people get a definitive warning of a potential crisis the better the chance to minimise the damage.”

The report identifies a number of key issues which would need to be addressed in order to ensure the successful implementation of a text message-based national emergency warning system.

“While clearly, there are obstacles which need to be overcome before any such system could be rolled out, I feel that the benefits of this technology offer exciting potential to improve communication channels between emergency response coordinators and the public,” said Deputy Kelly.

A full copy of the report is available at www.oireachtas.ie

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