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Building a Public Warning System for a mobile world

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The European Parliament has issued a directive that requires its member countries to transmit public emergency alerts to their citizens through mobile devices as of June 2022. To date, just a few European countries have deployed Public Warning System (PWS) services that comply with the directive.

For the remaining members, the time is now. Is your country prepared to provide alerts when natural and human-made disasters strike?

What is a PWS?

PWS services help protect lives and property by enabling governments to provide timely alerts to at-risk citizens when natural disasters, public health threats and human-induced emergencies arise. They can also provide a means for public safety authorities to ask for the public’s help with more localized challenges, such as searching for missing children.

Governments and their mobile network operator (MNO) partners know they need PWS services that can efficiently broadcast critical emergency alerts and information to the growing ranks of mobile users. Standards bodies such as 3GPP have provided a roadmap by setting global criteria for alert delivery, message content and features for PWS over mobile networks.

Governments in the Netherlands, US, Canada, Chile, Japan, South Korea and Israel are among those that have already deployed PWS services based on these standards. The EU initiative will bring the benefits of a standards-based PWS to more than 445 million people across the continent.

Technology options for PWS services

With PWS services, governments can issue emergency alerts and send them to MNOs for broadcast to users in targeted geographical areas. There are two main technology options for implementing a PWS service: Cell Broadcast Service (CBS) and location-based SMS (LB-SMS). Each has unique capabilities and strengths.

CBS is the most effective way to reach large areas and populations, according to 3GPP and ETSI specifications and early experiences with PWS deployments. It offers several key advantages over point-to-point (P2P) SMS and over-the-top smartphone applications, which are not optimal for mass alert distribution to individual devices. With CBS, governments and MNOs can:

  • Broadcast alert messages to millions of citizens within a few minutes over any generation of mobile network (from 2G to 5G)
  • Target alerts to specific geographic areas and ensure that they have an appropriate look and tone
  • Comply with global emergency alert service standards
  • Support standards-based evolution to multimedia-based alerts

CBS can also enable MNOs to support revenue-generating commercial services such as information alerts, community and campus alerts and location-based mobile advertising.

LB-SMS is built on a technology that identifies the geographic location of mobile subscribers. It supports the delivery of alerts to all mobile subscribers that reside in identified risk areas. With LB-SMS, governments and MNOs can:

  • Improve situational awareness by counting the number of message recipients in a given area
  • Help first responders by identifying the current location of citizens
  • Support two-way communication with citizens
  • Provide individual message delivery reports
  • Send alerts and updates to people who enter and leave affected areas

Why choose between CBS and LB-SMS?

Nokia offers a complete PWS solution that eliminates the need to choose between CBS and LB-SMS. Our solution provides a one-stop-shop approach that includes both platforms, a government alert management system and all associated integration services. It enables governments and MNOs to deploy all the PWS capabilities they need for any emergency scenario, whether the priority is alerting massive numbers of people or locating and interacting with individual citizens. This approach maximizes the efficiency of the PWS, accelerates nationwide deployment and ensures end-to-end interoperation.

Our scalable solution complies with global PWS standards defined by 3GPP, ETSI and ATIS. This compliance ensures that governments can fulfill their emergency alerting mandates and evolve their solutions to support future capabilities. The PWS solution also supports message delivery over all generations of mobile networks, which ensures that alerts can reach the highest possible percentage of at-risk citizens.

A proven PWS partner

Our PWS solution is currently in service with several leading MNOs in the US, Canada, Europe and Central and Latin America. It provides the capacity required to handle fast-growing mobile device use and the flexibility required for fast use case development.

We support the PWS solution with a complete wireless portfolio and the industry’s most extensive experience with LTE deployments for large MNOs. We also provide comprehensive integration services that make it easy for MNOs and governments to design, deploy and test PWS capabilities and services.

Find out more

Download our application note to learn more about how we can help you deploy an efficient, reliable and scalable PWS that improves public safety and fulfills your regulatory requirements.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokiaindustries using #smartcities #publicsafety.

Arnaud Legrand

About Arnaud Legrand

Arnaud leads Nokia’s public sector marketing efforts, educating government entities on the advances and benefits of telecommunications to improve the services they deliver to their citizens and businesses. When he’s not studying the latest market trends, you can find him recharging his batteries kite surfing and conquering the waves.

Tweet me at @ArnaudLegrand

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