Emergency Notification System that fails to exist

Система екстреного оповіщення, якої немає

Ukraine has not managed to create Emergency Notification System that may make population warning on emergency situation over the years. There are only some initiatives launched by telecom operators and some state bodies. Innovation House explored how do they function and whether they may be the substitution for full-fledged nationwide system.

Gift to cyberpolice

On September 26 telecom operator lifecel delivered possession of ENS (Emergency Notification System) to the state. Cyberpolice Department of the National Police of Ukraine has already tested it and now will be its principal user. Cyberpolice database has 560 entities that will receive notifications in the event of cyberattacks and emergency situations. This will be a call, text message or e-mail having further instructions, how to act and what to do.

According to Serhii Demediuk, Cyberpolice Head, in a matter of seconds from mobile phone of computer notification may be sent to thousands of users. First, it will be received by experts of relevant departments, and then – by end users. “Cyber ​​attacks that were already made on Ukrainian enterprises, have shown that prompt response – is the very first activity that shall be made for its successful mitigation” – Demediuk said. He told that even during the test stage the system managed to prevent the spread of malicious software in one of the companies.

Earlier instructions were sent to the state bodies via e-mail, and therefore addressee could not always see them in proper time. “For instance, person is driving the car, and he receives e-mail. Or if attack was made in the dead of night – sure thing, he will not read e-mail immediately. In this case the call to mobile phone will be much more effective,” – Demediuk said. Nevertheless, to comply with the formal procedure, instructions will be duplicated via e-mail even upon ENS implementation.

Business and PR

In sober fact, ENS is mass mailout platform that may be used by the state bodies. From the very beginning it was developed for lifecell internal use: approximately once a month security service of telecom operator makes mailout to its employees.

Other telecom operator also have similar systems. “There is no saying, why they did not approach our company, we are experienced in implementing and maintaining of such systems,” – Victoria Pavlovska, Media Relations Officer of “Vodafone Ukraine”, said.

Moreover, Ukraine has good number of mass mailout programs not related to telecom operators. As an example, they are used by chain stores to inform the customers about the discounts via the telephone number. “But all they cost money,” – Serhii Demediuk explained. In the meantime, lifecell transfers its systems at no charge. According to Yuliia Furmanova, Head of Communications, the company considers that this is a part of its corporate social responsibility. “This is 100% Ukrainian solution, created by Ukrainian office,” – Ismet Yazici, CEO of lifecell, said. According to him, telecom operator is going to sell the same platform to the private companies, households, private individuals. Commercial part of the project shall be launched by the year-end, service tariffs are not yet disclosed.

During the press conference, journalists showed how the system works, having sent test messages

During the press conference, journalists showed how the system works, having sent test messages

Demediuk said that currently private companies may join the system at no charge, if they disclose their confidential data to cyberpolice and pass the verification procedure. More specifically, they shall provide their phone numbers, IP-addresses, information about the devices of their employees and software – all this is needed to detect the threat and to send messages. Open channels are used to make mailout, and information that is sent is also open.

Система екстреного оповіщення, якої немає

At the country level

The main point is: what ordinary users of mobile communications will get? Will they receive any notification? The answer is no.

To make mass notification of population about the emergency situations, other systems, able to make mailout according to geolocation, are needed. Moreover, information is sent through different channels, including mobile and fixed communication networks.

Here is example of how such system works in the USA. During the downpour, users of mobile operators got notifications from the National Weather Service about flooding of several stations. Similar notifications, but via Google service, were received by smartphone users, connected to Wi-Fi.

Such notifications may also be sent by social security authorities, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, president of the United States. Sender is always indicated in the notification.

Moreover, USA has special Emergency Notification System, involving other communication channels, like television and radio.

Japan uses various channels, inclusive of mobile communications, loudspeakers and television broadcasting to make emergency notification about natural disaster. Notification about the oncoming earthquake may be displayed on the TV screen strait during the entertainment show or newscast.

Ukraine traditionally had nationwide, territorial and local notification systems, where electronic sirens, loudspeakers, room speakers were used. But they become out of date. There were many attempts to build new Emergency Notification System.

In 2008 system sample was developed, but the work was stopped due to the lack of funding. About UAH 20 mln ($3,9 mln) of public money were going to be spent for the modernization purposes.

There were rumours about it when Ukraine was preparing for the UEFA Euro 2012 and created analogue of the American emergency 911 service – 112 service. However, efficient notification system failed to appear in the country.

What kind of notifications you may get after all

In some cases, Ukrainian users of mobile communications may receive notifications from the state services. Once again, this is the result of joint initiatives with telecom operators. Thus, on September 15 “Kyivstar” and National Police of Ukraine started looking for the missing children together. This is how it works: all the users, who locate close to child disappearance zone, received text messages. Message contains information about the child, circumstances of his disappearance, link to website with his photo, as well as police contact details, where potential witnesses willing to help in the search may turn to. Moreover, “Kyivstar” has been long cooperating with State Emergency Service of Ukraine in the west of Ukraine: telecom operator’s channels are used for text-message notifications for the training purpose during training activities. “At the same time, we believe that it is necessary for us to have Unified Emergency Notification System of population about the emergency situations, on the best practice model. Unfortunately, Ukraine has no such mechanism,” – “Kyivstar” press service reported. Working and efficient technological model shall be approved at the level of laws and regulations. For its part, telecom operator is ready to cooperate with the state as a part of this model.

Currently “Vodafone Ukraine” jointly with Security Service of Ukraine are developing efficient interaction system under emergency circumstances based on SIEM systems. In other words, what is meant here is automated online analysis of threats and notification about them. Since the project is under development stage, its details are not disclosed. “Now there are active negotiations with mobile telecom operators about the creation of nationwide notification system. And I hope that cooperation with lifecell will give boost to this process,” – Serhii Demediuk said.



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