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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

17 June 2003

Bureau Trial of SMS Messaging to Warn of Severe Weather

Mobile phone short message services (SMS) are now delivering more than reminders to catch up for a coffee.

The Bureau of Meteorology is running a trial in four cities (Cairns, Gold Coast, Sydney and Perth) using SMS to deliver an alert directly to the mobile phones of members of the public when severe weather is forecast.

The trial has already attracted over 2500 subscribers each requesting, on average, six specific services. Subscribers have received a total of 20,000 messages so far. The SMS message provides an alert that a warning has been issued and refers the recipient to the Bureau website or a 1300 telephone number for full details of the warning.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Dr Sharman Stone said, “Mobile phone alerts have been provided to emergency services for some time. We want to see whether such a service would be useful for the broader community outdoors, at the beach on the water or up a mountain. Using this technology is a way for the Bureau to distribute its warnings more quickly and widely in the interests of community safety and well-being.”

The trial is operating in four centres to cover a range of climates and demographic regions. Subscribers to the trial receive an alert when the Bureau issues a warning for hazardous weather such as severe thunderstorms or tropical cyclones, road weather alerts or and wind warnings for coastal waters or over land.

Information about the trial and how to subscribe can be found on the pages for the Bureau’s internet site - Clicking on the map for Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia will lead to a notice of the trial with a link to a subscription page. Subscribers to the trial receive the message free of charge, but are asked to participate in a survey to evaluate the usefulness of the service.

The trial is being carried out with assistance from Legion Interactive, a Sydney based firm that operates the Bureau’s existing telephone weather services.

If the trial shows that such a service is useful, the Bureau will consider a nationwide service to increase awareness of Bureau warnings.

Media Enquiries:
Andrew Cox (Dr Stone’s office) Mobile: 0408 057 226
Dr Ray Canterford (Bureau of Meteorology) 0413 244 305

Commonwealth of Australia