People near the huge forest fires in central Sweden this summer would have received localised warnings. Photo: Andreas Irebring / Sveriges Radio
People near the huge forest fires in central Sweden this summer would have received localised warnings. Photo: Andreas Irebring / Sveriges Radio

Proposal: Introduce text message public safety warnings by 2016

Local residents should be able to get important public announcements straight to their mobile phones, a government study says, but that would mean several law changes.

At the moment residents are informed of emergencies such as floods or fires through radio and television broadcasts or sirens, but that is not enough, according to government investigator Erik O. Wennerström. He has been looking into the issue for the Swedish government, and says anyone in an affected region should get the warnings as mobile phone text messages as well, news agency TT reports.

However, that would mean that mobile phone operators would have to store geographical information about their customers in order to send the warning text message to the right people, and that would require a change in the law. The geographical information would be erased as soon as the danger has passed, according to the proposals.

Wennerström suggests that the text message warnings be launched by 2016. SOS Alarm, which issues the warnings, has already started preparing to introduce the system.

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