Almost everyone in Taiwan mistakenly received a “Dengue Fever Alert” around noon yesterday. The warning was only supposed to be sent to people within a 2-kilometer radius of the reported dengue fever cases. That was people nearby Kaishan Village, West Central District, Tainan City. However, due to technical issues of the Public Warning System (PWS), the alert was sent to everyone in Taiwan.
Still, why not take this opportunity and get to know the “Public Warning System (PWS)” a little bit more? Under what circumstances can the government send messages with PWS to the public?
Many of citizens are familiar with earthquake and rainstorm alerts. According to the website of the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction, these alerts are sent via PWS. What exactly is PWS anyway?
In fact, PWS utilizes a Cell Broadcast method, so a large number of 4G mobile phone subscribers can be reached. Government agencies can thus, send text messages to all 4G subscribers within designated areas.
There are four types of messages users may receive, including “Presidential Alert,” “Emergency Alert,” “Alert Message,” and “Required Monthly Test.”
“Presidential Alert” applies to disasters threatening a wide range of areas and possibly causing immediate harm. Such kind of notifications cannot be turned off.
“Emergency Alert” will be issued when there is a potential threat to the general public. Users can turn off these alerts by changing notification settings on their phones.
“Alert Message” aims at notifying the general public of a potential danger that should be addressed, but they have more time to take preventive measures. Notifications of this kind can also be turned off.
Lastly, the “Required Monthly Test.” These are messages issued by the system and are turned off by default. Users may turn on the notifications if they want.
現有告警訊息有頗多單位能針對一些災防事件發出警訊給全台或指定地區的民眾，例如交通部中央氣象局可針對大雷雨即時訊息、交通部中央氣象局可發出地震規模 5.0 以上的地震速報或海嘯警報與颱風強風告警、衛生服利部疾病管制署可發布國內重要傳染病疫情、國防部可發布防空警報…等等。
Many government agencies have currently adopted PWS to send alerts to the general public. For example, Central Weather Bureau of Ministry of Transportation and Communications can issue warnings regarding thunderstorms, earthquakes of/or above magnitude 5.0, tsunamis or strong winds brought about by typhoons. The Center for Disease Control under the Ministry of Health and Welfare can send epidemic alerts and the Ministry of National Defense can issue missile defense alerts, if necessary.
If you have never received any alerts, you may want to check your settings to see if you accidentally turned off the notifications. Except for Presidential Alerts, 4G users can change the settings on their phones to turn on or disable alerts as they want.
Both Android and iOs users can head to the Settings menu and make the adjustments. Steps vary with different brands but tutorials can be found on the National Communication Council website.
By Lillian Lu