By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Just in time for the traditional heavy rains which are registered every year in Brazil the residents of the states of Minas Gerais, Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul have been integrated into a service where they will receive free SMS message warnings of natural disasters, such as floods, storms and landslides.
Coordinated by the Ministry of National Integration and the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) and mobile operators the service is already fully operational in the states of Paraná, Santa Catarina, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo and Rio Grande do Sul. By March, the service will be available in all states and the nation’s capital, Brasilia, according to officials.
“We have been looking for technologies that allow the population to be informed in a preventive way,” stated the Minister of National Integration, Helder Barbalho, during the implementation of one of the system’s four phases.
“With information, with technology, we can save lives and reduce the impacts of natural disasters happening in Brazil,” added the Minister.
Since its implementation in February of 2017, 19,387 alert messages have been sent to communities about disaster risks. In the first six states where the services were implemented, there are already 1.8 million cell phones registered.
This includes Santa Catarina which last week registered three deaths as a result of heavy storms, including that of a 9-year-old girl. The state government has also stated that 25 municipalities in the state were severely affected by rains since the beginning of the year.
In past summers, Brazil has registered several landslides due to persistent rains, some of which have led to dozens of deaths and hundreds being left homeless because of mud and water damages to their residences.