The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) launched an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) service to disseminate updated weather information among the common people.
The service, yet to be made public formally, is available through mobile phone calls at 10941.
“Anybody can hear the current weather update including cyclone warnings by calling the short code 10941 from a mobile phone,” Mohammad Abdul Wazed, director general of DDM, told the Dhaka Tribune.
For example, fishermen can now decide whether the climate is ideal or not to go fishing by listening at the IVR service, he said, while talking to recently.
The IVR is a joint project of DDM and state-owned mobile phone operator Teletalk.
SM Kamrul Hasan, meteorologist at Bangladesh Met Office, said they are sending each and every type of weather information immediately to DDM for updating the IVR.
The DDM director general confirmed that people would have to pay around Tk1.50 to get weather updates through this service.
He also said, DDM would go for mass publicity for the service once they get a popular short code like 555 or 777 as the present short code (10941) is a bit long which might be tough to remember. Negotiations in this regard are ongoing with Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
Airtel, a private mobile phone operator in the country had introduced a telecommunication based digital system to deliver weather alerts, and tracking services for vessels out at sea specifically targeted towards Bangladesh’s coastal community on October 29, 2011.
As part of Airtel’s initiative, thousands of fishermen in the Bangladeshi coast could be able to subscribe to weather alerts and forecasts thus allowing them to avoid rough seas and sail safely.
Currently the service is halted due to technical constraints; however, it will resume soon, said Airtel officials.
Taking lessons from a cyclonic event in 1991, which caused huge losses in property and took lives of 138,000 people, Bangladesh has improved a lot regarding disaster management and early warning system in the last two decades.