Wednesday, February 21

Your mobile is not broken: that beep is an alert from the Government’s new large-scale emergency system


The Government of Spain announced in July 2021 that it was going to deploy a large-scale public alert system to massively notify citizens when major disasters occurred, such as the Filomena storm or the La Palma volcano eruption. At first, everything seemed to indicate that it was going to be based on the emission of SMS, but finally Civil Protection has opted for technology Cell Broadcast for him, according to the newspaper El País.

Therefore, the system will use radio emissions and will have an important peculiarity: when it reaches any of the devices, it will emit a sharp and penetrating sound signal together with a text, a sound that will only stop when the owner of the mobile confirms that it has read.

Why? The choice of this technology over others is fundamentally due to the fact that it allows alerts to arrive immediately, since it occupies very little bandwidth, and it is automatic for all devices connected to antennas that are in a certain area. .

That speed, they explain from Civil Protection, is essential in emergency situations, and the possibility of alerting all devices in the area guarantees that not only citizens and residents are notified, but also anyone passing through with a smartphone compatible that is in the affected area, regardless of the company with which you have contracted your services.

In the following video you can see and hear a message similar to the one that will reach the mobile phones of citizens who are in Spain in case of an emergency.

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Scope. This emergency alert system will have a national scope and will be issued automatically from 20 centers, those of each autonomous community and the National Center for Monitoring and Coordination of Emergencies of the General Directorate of Civil Protection. The message will be sent from one or the other depending on where the emergency situation occurred.

The text messages will be sent in Spanish, the co-official language of the territory in question, if any, and in an international language yet to be determined, although it is likely to be English. Additionally, if Civil Protection is aware of the concentration of a significant number of foreign citizens in the area, it will also try to send the alert in their language. The system will be operational from next summer.

Also on television and radio. With this new system, Civil Protection wants to strengthen the scope of its emergency alert systems using a device that is present in 99.5% of Spanish homes, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) from 2020.

But its deployment does not mean that other methods to alert the population are eliminated, since Civil Protection assures that this system complements others that have been traditionally used, such as radio or television. In fact, they emphasize that in no case will the channels that have been used until now be dispensed with.

*Image: Marc Szeglat*

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