The Department of Digital Economy and Society (DES) and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) of Thailand are joining forces to implement a proficient emergency alert system. This decision was sparkled by a shooting incident that took place at Siam Paragon Mall on October 3. Expressing the urgency for the necessity of a public alert system, DES Minister Prasert Jantararuangthong revealed that Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is particularly interested in creating an alert system that can deliver location-specific updates, thereby enhancing the citizens’ safety. Tasked with the pivotal role, the ministry has been instructed to fast-track the system development and work in collaboration with relevant entities.
During the incident day at the Siam Paragon mall, an SMS alert was dispatched to the mall’s tenants. However, a gap was identified as there wasn’t a government body to broadcast this urgent information to the broader public using the area. To plug this loophole, a location-based SMS alert is being developed that can deliver nationwide alerts and is expected to be operational within a month.
Explaining further, the DES minister shared that they also plan to roll out a more effective cell broadcast system in the medium run. This advanced system could instantly transmit a message to all communication devices or mobile phones within a specified region. Based on the data collected by the ministry, a location-focused SMS alert system might take around 15-20 minutes to zero in on the mobile phone SIM cards within a specific area, with an additional 1-20 minutes to direct messages to the identified individuals, as reported by Bangkok Post. In contrast, a cell broadcast system sends messages directly via radio cells, bypassing the need for users to download an application. The commencement of the cell broadcast system is targeted within six months to a year.
The DES and the NBTC plan to finalize the intricate technical details, following which they would encourage mobile phone operators to adopt the new system. Providing more clarity on the topic, NBTC Chairman, Dr Sarana Boonbaichaiyapruck, explained that the implementation process requires setting up a command center. This center will guide telecom operators to push alert messages through the chosen method. As part of streamlining these operations, NBTC is preparing to kickstart relevant regulations. Operators are also encouraged to equip themselves with the needed hardware and software to allow the swift launch of the cell broadcast system.
Giving more power to this initiative, Pratthana Leelapanang, Chief Consumer Business Officer at Advanced Info Service (AIS), assured the company’s dedication towards building a secure network for Thailand’s tourists. Conveying the company’s support to assist the government, Pratthana said that they will work hand-in-hand to deliver emergency warnings through mobile networks. By doing so, they aim to increase the tourists’ confidence about the safety and security when it comes to travel within the country, as reported by the Bangkok Post.