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In the last blog we described how the project contributes to SES (Ukrainian State Emergency Service Regional Department in Mariupol city) workflow by providing SMS and web channels for receiving reports, and by allowing efficient feedback to reporters. In this blog, the focus is on the SMS system, which has now been tested and is ready for usage.

The SMS platform has a double function: a reporting function and a function for subscribing to risk information. With the reporting function, users will have the opportunity to notify SES about suspected unexploded ordnance found by sending text messages from their mobile phones, with the word “mine” in Ukrainian, English or Russian. The SMS reporting function will be an addition to the current 101 hotline (official emergency number in Ukraine), and will provide an easy way to report, and allow SES to call back at an appropriate time to record all necessary data.


SES testing SMS system

The second component, the SMS subscription system, is a combination of an ‘information and alarm service’ through which users are enabled to subscribe to get risk messages from SES. The information service will more specifically include mine risk education messages and alert messages such as information about artillery shelling, areas newly contaminated by unexploded ordnance or mines, floods, fires etc. Mine risk education messages will be scheduled to be sent once a week, as suggested by focus group discussions, while alert messages will be sent when SES estimate the need to warn the public of a new dangerous situation in the region.

An illustration of how the SMS service will work

A design change to the SMS service was recently introduced, as the preliminary focus groups discussions showed that users prefer to get warnings as targeted as possible to the areas they live. The system has therefore been changed to allow geographic subscriptions based on the larger cities in the area. To subscribe, a user just needs to send a text which includes the name of the city they live in, or close by, and a word “sms” – e.g. “Mariupol sms”. The SMS management software, Frontline SMS, automatically ads the person to a city distribution list, in the example above to the Mariupol list, and will receive messages relating to Mariupol. It is possible to subscribe to several cities information, just by sending a new message with another city name.

The system has been preliminary tested within SES earlier this week and feedback is overall positive with main functions working as intended. However, during the testing some unexpected bugs appear, especially around un-subscribing function, which allows users to unsubscribe from selected lists. These issues have all been solved now and the system is ready to be introduced to the general public.

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