Alarm in Germany: If possible, everyone should receive a quick government warning in an emergency. The systems are to be tested and further improved on the upcoming warning day.
Mobile phones buzz, lettering lights up, sirens howl: nationwide, on September 14, the game is to be played out again, as warned in the event of disasters or the consequences of war. The nationwide warning day should work even better than the last test alarm in December. As the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) further announced, a warning will be given from 11 a.m. and the all-clear should be given around 11.45 a.m.
This time, people should be reached as nationwide as possible with a state warning, as it was said. On the most recent warning day in December, nine out of ten people received a warning in one way or another.
“We rely on the so-called warning agent mix,” said Interior Secretary Juliane Seifert. These included the mobile phone warning channel Cell Broadcast, warning apps like Nina, warnings on radio and television, sirens, information boards in cities and warnings on platforms and in Deutsche Bahn trains. With the so-called cell broadcast system, an automatic notification goes to every mobile phone that is switched on at the time, has reception and is running the latest software.
The Cell Broadcast System with automatic notifications to mobile phones was used for the first time on the 2022 warning day. At that time, almost 54 percent of the people were reached via cell broadcast.
Difference between federal and regional cases
BBK President Ralph Tiesler said the warning day was a stress test for the systems. “It is getting loud.” In an actual civil defense case, i.e. if the population has to be protected from the effects of war, the warning system would have to be able to be triggered nationwide. “Here the federal government pushes the button,” said Tiesler. This then runs through his office, if possible after consultation with the Federal Minister of the Interior. In fact, it’s just a click of the mouse.
In regional cases such as fires or killing sprees, the local authorities would send out warnings, Tiesler said. According to the Interior Ministry, this has already happened successfully in several cases in the past few months. Among other things, Seifert named the shooting at a meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Hamburg in March that left eight dead.
The reason for the introduction of cell broadcast in Germany was the flood disaster in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia in the summer of 2021 with more than 180 deaths. Seifert also rated the warnings as important against the background of climate change. There is “no reason to assume that the extreme weather events will subside”.
Tiesler was confident that the forthcoming warning day would reach at least the same high number of people as last year. The goal is the further expansion of the warning infrastructure. Each individual warning device should be brought up to the rate of 90 percent of people warned that has only been achieved so far. “Ultimately, we learn something new with every warning day,” said Tiesler.
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