The Role of the Commercial Mobile Networks in Emergency notifications & Critical Event Information Dissemination

Presented by the Cellular Emergency Alert Services Association of Information Societies


In 1992, the GSM committee crafted the cell broadcast industry standards. Specifically, the GSM engineers realized a probable use-case for the broadcast distribution of some classes of information like public safety alerts and advisories. Point-to-Multipoint messaging was seen to be a complementing (not competing) technology to point-to-point, SMS, that could achieve passive super-scale instant delivery of data to terminals in selected cell locations without affecting, or being affected by, traffic volume. This unique facility has survived all subsequent generations of mobile services, and has become the recommended ‘Go-To’ technology for providing mass-scale ‘Government-to-Citizen’ Public Warning including the US Wireless Emergency Alert service, WEA, and the European EU-ALERT system. Without the insight that this capability was needed, and not deliverable by any other means, Cellular Broadcast Short Messaging Service would not exist. This contribution to public safety has made mobile telecommunications synonymous with effective emergency management. The GSM committees are the ‘fathers’ of this revolution in mass emergency notification. Now that the feasibility, need, and demonstrative benefit of cell broadcast/multicast emergency notification capability has been well established, the GSMA has the moral authority and obligation to support cell broadcast messaging logical conclusion as a global public service feature of mobile telecommunications. The mission of the CEASA ‘Project Gabriel’ is to facilitate this authority by expanding the availability and humanitarian benefits of cellular emergency notification services to all mobile populations. This mission is of critical importance to the developing nations many who have; • high levels of vulnerability to sudden-onset disaster events, • expanding mobile penetration, and, • the inherent governmental need to provide the 'At-Risk' populations access to authoritative information. Regrettably, because most small and developing nations lack a sufficient revenue base to acquire dedicated emergency messaging platforms, or to provide the mobile operators adequate compensation for the use of their private assets, this critical communication tool has only been deployable in nineteen mobile markets representing less than twenty percent of the global mobile penetration. Project Gabriel was founded by the CEASA Working Group volunteers to facilitate the development of a strategic solution to providing Universal Public Service Emergency Notification, UPSEN, as a revenue-sustained default service of Mobile Telecommunications. The UPSEN operating system and funding plan utilizes pull-data data technology in place of a gateway operating system, that can retrieve critical-event information, posted by emergency information providers including;

• The World Meteorological Organization, WMO,

• The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, and

• The International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, ICMEC.


This information is cell broadcast messaging enabled by shared Cell Broadcast Centre platforms and interfaced with the participating UPSEN networks for transmission. The UPSEN enabling system and operator participation is fully compensated by the networks’ self-imposition, or redirection, of Public Service Obligation Surcharge fees on subscribers who receive the direct benefits of the UPSEN. The surcharge amounts are calculated to recover all implementation costs in year one, while providing the mobile operators with annual compensation for participating without legislative mandate. The projected surcharge is capped under the recommendations of Project Gabriel. to not exceed $0.10 US per subscriber, per month, with no additional operator or government investment required. As General Secretary of CEASA, may I purpose GSM association give serious consideration and study to the humanitarian, political, and commercial aspects of Project Gabriel and UPSEN as a GSMA program. I have given careful study to the Gabriel Proposals and have found no basis for objection by the mobile operator members. In fact, I can see clear economic and political advantages in additional to fulfilling the project’s humanitarian objectives. Cellular emergency alerting is not a Public Warning Service, it is a Mobile Population Messaging feature. Universally deployed Public Service Emergency Notification is ubiquitous with the founding purpose of the Global System for Mobile Communications, the enhancing of public safety, and the mission of CEASa