Cell Broadcast: This is how the new warning system works in Germany – Economy

With the cell broadcast warning system, the population should be warned of disasters as quickly as possible in the future – via cell phone, even without an app or the Internet. The warning text appears on the screen like a kind of breaking message with a sound signal. An explanatory message for all mobile phone owners will be sent out in the next few days.

How does a user know if the warning system works for them?

At the nationwide warning day, December 8th at 11 a.m., the new warning system is to be tested for the first time in all 294 districts and 107 urban districts in Germany. All mobile phone owners in Germany will be informed via SMS about the new disaster warning system cell broadcast in the coming days. The test phase lasts until February 2023.

After that, the necessary applications will be further expanded Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance With. At the same time, the necessary updates to the smartphone operating systems that are required to receive the messages are to be made.

What do users need to set on their phones to receive the alerts?

In order to receive the notifications on the smartphone, it must be compatible with cell broadcast, switched on and ready to receive. With smartphones from Apple, the warning system will be used with all devices from iPhone 6s and upwards, as long as their operating system is up to date (currently iOS 16.1 or 15.7.1 and 15.6.1).

Devices with the Google operating system Android are compatible from Android version 11 onwards. However, an estimated third of all Android smartphones are running an older version that cannot receive a cell broadcast.

With some devices, cell broadcast reception still has to be activated manually. On the iPhone, you can find the settings via the “Notifications” menu item at the bottom in the “Cell Broadcast Alerts” section. On Android devices, settings are usually found via a submenu like “Security & Emergency” in the Settings menu. Depending on the manufacturer, the section for switching reception on and off is then called “Wireless emergency alerts” or “Emergency notifications for mobile devices”.

Why is the warning system being introduced?

The reason for the introduction of cell broadcast in Germany was the severe storm in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate in July 2021, which killed dozens. The flood disaster showed that warning apps and classic sirens are not enough to warn the population of the danger across the board. According to Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, the warning system is intended to improve civil protection if, for example, other extreme weather events such as forest fires or floods occur in the future.

Warning system guidelines were already available in 2020. In August 2021 decided by the federal cabinet the legal framework for the introduction.

How does the warning system work?

With the system, messages like broadcast signals are sent to all compatible devices that are registered in a cell – hence the name cell broadcast. Similar to an SMS, a message is sent. This goes to all smartphone owners who are within a specific radio cell at the time of transmission.

People or regions can be warned very specifically: The local civil protection could also just select a few cell towers to send out an alert. If, in the event of a disaster, the mobile phone networks are overloaded or there is an interruption in the power supply, people can be reached more quickly because the cell broadcast warning system saves network capacity.

In contrast to warning systems like Nina or Katwarn, you don’t need an app to be alerted. You also don’t need to open a notification app to read SMS, since the warning text appears on the screen without any additional application. When the warning text arrives, a loud acoustic signal sounds.

What other measures are there to improve civil protection?

In order to better prepare the population for crisis situations, citizens should be more actively involved. According to the interior minister, a civil protection day will be introduced together with the federal states from 2023. The aim is to promote protective measures by the state, but also individual precautions. The aim is to strengthen the “resilience of society”.

The warning app “Nina” is also to be further expanded according to the Federal Minister of the Interior Faeser. According to the minister, it has proven itself particularly in times of Corona as a means of crisis communication and a platform for information from the federal government. However, the fact that only 10 million people currently use it speaks against the Nina-Warn-App.

Sirens would also be expanded and tested for their function, the minister explained.

What about the privacy alert system?

To the privacy Users don’t have to worry. The message is sent without personal data being collected or processed.

This was also confirmed by Manuel Atug, spokesman for AG KRITIS, an independent working group that deals with critical infrastructure. to ZDF. The cell broadcast warning system is the “most privacy-friendly way” to warn the population, according to Atug. It is completely anonymous because it does not require any data about the user.

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