A natural disaster information dissemination system to alert people within seconds on mobile phones, claimed to be the first in the world, is in place in India.
"India is the first country in the world which has introduced an easy-to-use, bilingual disaster warning dissemination system. Through this alert system the common man would come to know about natural disaster in 30 seconds," Union Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters in New Delhi on Friday.
Through the technology, which is a unique example of public-private partnership, alerts would be sent from the Indian Meteorological Department to the subscriber directly, he said.
"This is the way how government must take part in funding new technologies and ventures. Some of these technologies provide low cost solutions which benefit the common man. This way we leapfrog in getting infrastructure for the people through information technology," Sibal said.
This system called Geneva Natural Disaster Information System could be used for many purposes, he said.
The cost of the project is Rs 5.19 crore and Rs 4.35 crore of that amount was given to the Geneva Software Technologies (GSTL) who developed the technology, Renu Bapna of the Department of Science and Technology said.
"Once they start using the technology, they will be re-paying us the amount we have given them," she said.
Amar Singh, marketing director of the GSTL, said alerts would reach any mobile in 14 local languages without the need to download any alert applications.
Even after the alert is flashed, the person would also get a voicemail. "People would also get a call on their landline to alert them about the disaster," he said.
The technology, apart from being used in disasters like tsunami, floods and earthquakes could be used for man-made disasters like bomb blasts, he said.
For the benefit of those who don't have mobiles, the information would be also disseminated through Wireless Public Address System in their areas in less than a minute and in their local languages, he said.
Apart from Science and Technology Department and GSTL, BSNL is the other partner in the project.
The company was working on the project since September 2004 and when the tsunami occured three months later, the ministry gave them a go-ahead, Singh said.
"The project has been tested and we have demonstrated it to the Home Ministry. They will be deciding about how to make use of the technology."