cell broadcast

Mobile Cell Broadcasting for Commercial Use and Public Warning in the Maldives

Natasha Udu-gama
Publication Type:
Report/White paper
Publication Date:
1 May 2009


The Maldives is prone to a number of hazards including tsunamis, earthquakes, flash floods, tidal waves, thunderstorms, tornadoes and waterspouts, strong winds, and drought. The December 2004 tsunami affected many of its islands and wrought considerable devastation to its infrastructure, particularly telecom. Not only did it destroy shelters, but it affected five major nodes, disrupted service to 13 atolls (163 islands), destroyed power systems and batteries, and damaged radio equipment.


Maldives, a country of 1,192 islands and 290,000 citizens, is highly dependent on its natural resources. Along with tourism, which provides more than 30 percent of the country’s income, fisheries and agriculture are essential to livelihoods on the country’s 199 inhabited islands.2 Can early warning help save lives? The need for early warning has become greater since the tsunami and the growing threat of the atoll nation receding under a rapidly increasing sea level.3 These claims are further reinforced by a study conducted by RMSI for UNDP Maldives that “It is estimated that Male will be inundated by 15 per cent by 2025 and 50 per cent by 2100 due to climate change and consequent sea level rise”.


Therefore, early warning is essential in timely notification of alerts so that the general populace may be able to take the necessary precautions. In the case of the Maldives, if an early warning is introduced, it must be able to reach all of the outlying islands including tourists on resorts. With mobile phones quite ubiquitous, it may be an ideal time to introduce an emerging technology – cell broadcasting – for public early warning.