If the phone ‘shouts’ without a user input, don’t panic. It could be a red alert on an impending hazard, such as an earthquake or a flood. The National Disaster Management Authority, (NDMA) by the end of the year or early next year, will push hazard-related alert messages through self-broadcast wherein the mobile will ‘shout’ to alert the user to the hazard. This will work even if the phone is switched off, said an official working on the project.

At present, push messages are being sent on SMS. But, use of SMS for yellow and red alerts was choking channels. This takes 30-90 minutes while red alert messages will take less than 10 seconds, he said.

Lt. General Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd), Member, NDMA, said the first phase of the Common Alerting Protocol System-based Integrated Alert System (Sachet), a project conceived by the NDMA, has been completed. A sum of ₹354 crore was spent in the first phase, he added.

“In the second phase, we are looking at self-broadcast, a faster form of dissemination of messages unlike SMS. This would be implemented late this year or early next year. This is a developing technology for all hazards,” he said.

The protocol that was first tested in Tamil Nadu in the time of Covid-19 is now a successful model that helped in achieving a target of zero mortality at the Biparjoy cyclone that hit the Western coast recently,

“During Biparjoy, around 32 million messages went on the Common Dissemination Protocol. This was one of the reasons we could warn people on time and reduce mortality to such an extent,” he told newspersons on the eve of the third and final G20 Meeting of the DRR Working Group that starts in the city on Monday.

“The model that we are following in India was tested in Tamil Nadu during the Covid time. It was also used to disseminate the Covid-related warnings. It was a very successful model,” he added.

In the Odisha cyclones of 1999, over 10,000 lives were lost because no one knew what to do. We were just waiting for the cyclone to come, hit the public, the infrastructure and then respond to it. “We then started looking at the preparedness rather than response by disseminating information to people in a particular area where the impending hazard is likely to happen,” he said.

A system was created by which the information generated by IMD is then redrafted using simple language that everybody can understand; a GIS map provides you area of the landfall or the area where lightning might strike; the system makes a polygon on a GIS and captures all the mobile numbers in those areas. It then uses the SDMA to send out the message. This was done during the recent cyclone in Gujarat,” he said.