Thursday, December 2, 2021

Cell broadcast from 2022 Federal Council allows new disaster warning system

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At first it was discussed forever – but everything happened very quickly after the flood disaster: the Federal Council has now approved the introduction of the cell broadcast warning technology.

In the event of a possible disaster, the population should in future be warned via mass messages to all cell phones. On Friday, a good four months after the flood disaster, the Federal Council approved a government ordinance on cell broadcast, especially in western Germany.

The system enables the authorities to send a warning to all cell phone users who are currently in a certain area. Even if they don’t use smartphones or have a foreign cell phone number. This system is already used in many European countries, for example to warn of forest fires.

The legal basis for the regulation is a change in the Telecommunications Act. It provides for new statutory obligations for mobile network operators. The requirements for the introduction of cell broadcast by the mobile network operators and the connection to the federal modular warning system are currently being defined by the Federal Network Agency.

According to the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK), the procedure could be used from the end of 2022.

After heavy rain, numerous villages were flooded in mid-July. 183 people died, most of them in Rhineland-Palatinate. It later emerged that warnings of the disaster were too late or insufficiently urgent in some affected communities.

The BBK relies on a “warning mix”, which previously included sirens, announcements on the radio, warnings via app and on announcement boards. However, the responsibility for disaster control in peacetime does not lie with the federal government, but with the federal states.

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