July 12, 2014
Israeli army tardy in providing SMS rocket alert system
Nearly two years after the Israel Defense Forces promised otherwise, its Personal Message system for alerting civilians about incoming rockets is still not operational. [via Haaretz]
Developed at a cost of 400 million shekels ($117 million), the network is supposed to complement — and improve on — the sirens that send Israelis scurrying into bomb shelters when rockets are on the way. The principle is a simple one: alerts over smartphones and other mobile devices.
The system would be employed for all kinds of emergencies, whether rockets, an earthquake or an overturned oil tanker truck. The urgency has become evident in recent days as Hamas rockets have pelted southern Israel and have hit well north of Tel Aviv. The big problem: Many people in the center of the country say they don’t always hear the sirens.
On Thursday, the army announced that it had launched a very limited version of the service — what it described as the first stage of the system’s rollout. In that phase, the IDF would inform users once a day, based on their location, how much warning time they would need if a rocket were launched toward their area; for example, 40 seconds in Ashdod and 90 seconds in Tel Aviv.
“Citizens who have devices that support the system will receive a message by cellphone that will notify them of the time they have for a missile to strike,” the IDF said. “At this stage, the network will not operate as an alert system.” The system is compatible with Samsung, Sony, HTC and LG phones, it added.
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