Stuart Gunn, from Lert Info, a company which sends emergency alerts by text and email to subscribers. Photo by Craig Baxter.
A short deluge of rain in the Waitaki district last month was
not enough to trigger a weather warning, but it was enough to
cause significant surface flooding.
Waitaki District Council emergency management contacted
Dunedin-based company Lert Info, which provides an alerting
service, and a safety message was texted to subscribers in
the area, advising them to take care with the road
That message was sent by text within five minutes of Lert
Info being advised and the council's emergency services
manager Chris Raine saw ''real value'' in having such
Lert Info has designed a service that will send emergency
alerts by text and email, including Civil Defence, tsunami,
police, weather, state highway closures, council notices,
public health alerts and water notices. River flood levels,
rural fires and power outages were also available in some
parts of the country.
A fee was charged to cover ongoing development and
administration costs but messages were free, director Stuart
Individuals selected their suburb or town when registering,
meaning they received only alerts relevant to them.
During the recent Mt Tongariro alert, Lert Info was the first
to publicly announce the situation, apart from GeoNet, which
supplied the company with the information.
Mr Gunn believed the system, which was launched about three
weeks ago, was the most comprehensive of its kind in New
Zealand. One of its major strengths was that it was
localised, he said.
It was text and email-based, so everyone who had a cellphone
or a computer could be informed. An application was being
designed which would ''take it to the next level''.
Giving an example of how the system could be useful, Mr Gunn
said that if there was a power cut due to heavy snow, people
were unable to use their computers to find out what was
Instead, they could receive a text, which would tell them
what had happened and how long they would likely be without
It was a ''heads-up service'', allowing the recipient to take
action if appropriate, and links could also be provided to
more detailed information about the emergency or adverse
event. Mr Gunn, who has a marketing and sales background,
said the system was continually evolving. The company was
always looking for a way to make it as ''bullet-proof'' as
It was about being as timely and accurate as possible and
informing the public ''in a way that's never been done
Although there were some similar systems, none provided as
much Lert Info did, Mr Gunn said.
The way that it had been set up was very creative and it had
all been done in Dunedin.
''It just shows if you think outside the square, anything is
possible,'' he said.