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HomethailandgeneralOn high alert for new warning system

On high alert for new warning system

The Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) have teamed up to develop an effective emergency alert system to provide timely warnings and help people stay safe.

The plan to establish the system follows the shooting at Siam Paragon mall on Oct 3.

According to DES Minister Prasert Jantararuangthong, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin wants a public alert system for specific areas to mitigate risks for the public.

The premier assigned the ministry to develop the system and coordinate with related parties on the matter as soon as possible.

Mr Prasert said on Oct 3, Siam Paragon sent an SMS alert to tenants about the shooting, but there was no state agency to forward the alert to people in the area.

Q: What is the time frame for the system?

Mr Prasert said on Oct 4 he reached a preliminary conclusion with the NBTC on the method for the alerts and a time frame for the system to be operational.

The ministry plans to launch within one month a location-based SMS system that can provide alerts nationwide.

In the medium term, a cell broadcast system will be launched that is a better and faster alert system than sending SMS alerts, he said.

A cell broadcast can immediately send a message to all mobile phones or communication devices within a specified area.

A security guard inspects a visitor’s bag at Siam Paragon on Oct 4, a day after a fatal shooting at the mall. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

According to the ministry, a location-based SMS alert system takes 15-20 minutes to process which mobile phone SIM cards are in certain areas, then another 1-20 minutes to send messages to the targeted persons.

A cell broadcast sends messages directly via radio cells and does not require mobile phone users to download an application to use it.

Earlier Mr Prasert said the cell broadcast system would be ready to be deployed within six months to one year.

The ministry and the NBTC will finalise the technical aspects of the cell broadcast system and ask mobile phone operators to adopt the system, he said.

Q:Which agency will operate the alert system?

NBTC chairman Dr Sarana Boonbaichaiyapruck said the commission informed the ministry and telecom operators that the working process requires a command centre be established.

The centre will order telecom operators to send alert messages to people via the method it announces, he said.

“The NBTC will issue related regulations to support these operations,” said Dr Sarana.

Moreover, the telecom regulator asked operators to install related equipment and software to enable a cell broadcast system as soon as possible.

The NBTC’s universal service obligation fund will finance the equipment installation, he said.

Pratthana Leelapanang, chief consumer business officer at Advanced Info Service (AIS), said the company is committed to providing a secure network for tourists during their time in Thailand by collaborating with the government to provide emergency warnings through mobile networks.

This effort should ensure tourist confidence that travel in Thailand is safe and secure, said Mr Pratthana.

He made the remark during an announcement on Wednesdayabout a partnership between AIS and the Tourism Authority of Thailand on a campaign to attract foreign tourists.

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