Use Of SMS By Govt For Vital Information Dissemination

The growing use of SMS for information dissemination was discussed earlier on Groundviews, and I would like to mention a recent development.

At least one government department has been pro active and is now making use of SMS for communication with media. The Media Centre for National Security obtained an application to send out SMS to journalists from a four-digit number. They started on Dec 5th, as far as I know.

What I hope now is that the Met Department, Disaster Management Center and other central authorities follow suit and send out quick SMS messages to reporters during an impending or occurring natural disaster. The message could also guide reporters towards a detailed announcement on a website.

It could be a short line such as “New announcement posted by Disaster Management Center on website www.xyz.lk” and a detailed message posted in all three languages on this site. This is fast, detailed and saves officials from being stuck on phone lines talking to the media during a crisis.

Such postings are vital for news organizations to save time disseminating key information to their audiences as well as to be accurate and not convey badly-sourced information while doing so. Use of fax, email or telephone would be far less efficient, but could be used as secondary means.

More on why such a system would be important was posted here.