Australia’s federal government has announced a revamp of the country’s natural disaster alert system. The new system will rapidly send warnings to any device located in the path of a bushfire or flood, including those which had not signed up for them. The Public Safety Mobile Broadband system will give first responders coverage to communicate with colleagues across state lines, following a royal commission that found a lack of coordination between states put lives in danger. Emergency messages will be automatically sent to any device in the path of a natural disaster, overriding phone settings – including silent mode – to display a clearly visible alert. The new system will ensure users won’t be dependent on text messages and will be able to receive alerts, which automatically appear in the language a phone is set to. The technology will allow alerts to be targeted to areas as small as a 1 km radius. Testing has already started on the new system, set to be unveiled in next week’s budget, and Labor expects it to be operating by the end of next year.

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