The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and Chunghwa Telecom Telecommunications Laboratories are joining forces to build a low-frequency wireless time and frequency transmission system, which can quickly distribute natural disaster alerts to people through radio-controlled watches or clocks.
The system was displayed at the inauguration ceremony for a disaster-prevention communication system installed in Namasia Township (那瑪夏), Kaohsiung County, on Saturday.
Brian Shu (許景行), deputy director of the fourth division at the ministry’s Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection, said countries such as Germany and Japan were already providing standard national services through a wireless system, which helps synchronize the time nationwide.
Shu said Taiwan was also planning to provide a national standard time service through a wireless system, but said it would be designed so that it could also rapidly send disaster-prevention messages to the public.
“The new system could make Taiwan the first country to offer such a service,” he said, adding that people would only need a radio-controlled watch or a clock to receive disaster-related information.
Huang King-shih (黃金石), deputy project manager of the wireless communications lab at Chunghwa, said the system utilizes low-frequency radio waves, which have wider coverage than high-frequency waves and whose transmission is not limited by geographical constraints.
“In areas hit by natural disasters, the radio waves will continue to function,” Huang said. “People will be able to receive information such as weather forecasts, heavy rain alerts, or mudslide alerts via a radio-controlled watch.”
Huang said the service would be available to people at an affordable cost. He said the chip built into the radio-controlled watch costs only US$0.20, while a regular radio-controlled watch could cost as little as US$8.
This should not impose a financial burden on people, Huang said.
Shu said the system was still in its experimental stages and that its implementation would cost an estimated NT$270 million (US$8.44 million).
As the project involves the Central Weather Bureau and the Council of Agriculture, among others, Shu said the budget could be provided from all relevant agencies.
“If we can get the budget next year, the system could be completed and activated in 2012,” Shu said.