The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has increased pressure on government officials around the world to find ways to limit the spread of the virus in order to get their country back to normal as quickly and safely as possible and to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic.
Governments therefore need a way to send reliable, accurate and reliable information on a regular basis as the situation evolves in the country or even around the world. Communication has never been more important because false information can circulate through social networks in a matter of hours.
How a modern public warning system can be used to keep the public warned and informed during the pandemic with examples from countries around the world.
What is the PWS? Public warning systems are used by government or public authorities to notify the public of imminent or developing major disasters and emergencies. The audience is, of course, a mix of citizens, residents and visitors from other countries. Citizens may also be in other countries for business or personal travel and may need reliable information from their government abroad.
The challenge for the government is how to ensure that official public health information reaches everyone who needs to know safely and reliably that it is not breaking the rules of confidentiality. Cell phones are used by over 60% of the world’s population, but most governments do not use the mobile network to directly notify and inform the public and may not know that there are solutions to do so.
There are two technologies that make it possible to alert the public via mobile phones without the public having to register:
Cell broadcast (CB). A one-to-many broadcast that is picked up by mobile devices. An audible alert and a message appear on the home screen of all mobile devices in a defined area, bypassing the mobile operator’s network.
Location-based SMS (LB-SMS). One-to-one communication where an SMS is sent directly to all mobile devices connected to the mobile operator’s network in a defined area.
COVID-19 communication scenarios
Public alert systems can be used during COVID-19 for situational intelligence and to send targeted messages to everyone in a specific geographic area. Typical scenarios include:
+ Declare containment.
+ Monitoring of the expansion of pandemics.
+ Mitigate the spread.
+ Identify all vulnerable people.
+ Communicate with residents who visit or have
visited another country.
+ Prevent the gathering of dense population.
As an example, let’s take an example of using PWS in managing overcrowded places. In other words, getting the right information to the right people, at the right time, in the right place, and using the right channels.
Manage crowded places
During the pandemic, government authorities must maintain social distancing in public places, including parks, town centers or beaches. Governments can use the PWS in two ways: First, to visualize the situation on a map, how many mobile phone subscribers are in a defined area.
The situation can be monitored over time to assess whether a crowd is reaching unsafe levels, which could increase the risk of the virus spreading. Second, alerts can be sent to the public reminding them of social distancing rules or asking people to leave or avoid the area.
The right information
Enforce social distancing rules or wear masks.
Instruction to leave the area.
Instruction to avoid the area.
Anyone already in the crowded area.
Anyone already traveling to the crowded area.
Anyone planning to travel to the overcrowded area by
the display of alerts along routes and in stations.
The good moment
The right place
The right channels
Mobile phone alerts.
Digital display on major travel routes including road signs and stations.
Mobile apps – as a secondary channel for those who have downloaded the app.
Radio, television and social networks.