What is to happen on Nationwide Alert Day?

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FAQs What is to happen on Nationwide Alert Day?

10 September 2020 is to be the first Nationwide Alert Day since German reunification. Across Germany warning apps will alert users, sirens will sound, radio and television broadcasts will be interrupted and warnings will be flashed up on digital notice boards. Here are the most important FAQs.

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Nationwide Alert Day

Nationwide Alert Day

Photo: Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung

What will happen on Nationwide Alert Day?

At 11 am sharp on 10 September, a test alarm is to trigger alerts in districts and local authorities across Germany. A test alert will be sent to all multipliers (including broadcasters and app providers) that are connected up to the federal government’s modular warning system (MoWaS). The multipliers will in turn send out the test alert to their warning devices such as radios, and warning apps (like the federal government’s emergency information and news app NINA) allowing people to read, hear or take note of the warning. Parallel to this, federal states, districts and municipalities will use whatever local warning systems they have at their disposal, including sounding sirens and using vehicles fitted with loudspeakers.

Why is the Nationwide Alert Day important?

Swift warnings can save lives in the face of impending danger such as flooding, major storms, fires or attacks. If people are warned in time, they can save themselves and their families and protect their belongings. The Nationwide Alert Day and the test alert are intended to:

  • Make people more aware of the issue
  • Give an insight of the way alerts work and what exactly happens
  • Test the technical and organisational infrastructure involved, and
  • Draw attention to the warning techniques available (including sirens, warning apps and digital notice boards).

The Nationwide Alert Day can help ensure that people know more about alerts, enabling them to better protect themselves. It is also a way to familiarise people with the various siren signals, which are now the same across the country.

Who is involved?

The federal and state governments prepare the Nationwide Alert Day in conjunction with local authorities. At national level, responsibility lies with the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK), at the level of the federal states it is the duty of the state interior ministry, while at the level of the municipalities it is generally the disaster risk management authorities that are responsible.

What does the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance actually do? Find ten interesting facts about the BBK here.

Where are alerts issued?

To warn the population and keep people informed, federal, state and local authorities use the various communication channels available. The modular warning system run by the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) and the NINA warning app, for instance, are used to send out alerts and information issued by the responsible authorities at federal and state level.

What techniques are available?

An alert will generally be sent out to you using a number of different techniques and channels.

The federal government’s modular warning system (MoWaS) allows the federal, state and local governments to trigger a large number of alert techniques. Here is an overview of the media currently connected up to the system:

  • Warning apps (including NINA, BIWAPP, KATWARN and other regional warning apps)
  • Radio and television
  • Online (Warnung.bund.de).

There are other municipal alert structures that are triggered at local level, including:

  • Passenger information systems and city advertising notice boards
  • Sirens. 

Do I need to prepare for the Nationwide Alert Day?

You do not need to prepare. To ensure you are informed in advance though, it is a good idea to find out what techniques your local authorities will be using. Let your friends and family know too.

Why the second Thursday in September?

The Nationwide Alert Day is to address as many of the population as possible. School holidays are over in all federal states by the beginning of September, so that most people will have returned to their everyday routines and it should potentially be possible to reach them.

Why was there nothing for so long?

After reunification, some local authorities undertook to continue to operate the sirens, some of which were used during state and regional trial alerts. Since then, however, the alert system has been further refined. New techniques, such as apps and advertising boards are used to display information about a threat. New procedures have been established and operations further developed. Today, every warning also contains recommendation for action, to enable people to protect themselves better. Federal, state and local governments together launched the National Alert Day to make people more aware again of the techniques used and the contents of warnings.

Why now?

In June 2019, the Standing Conference of Ministers and Senators of the Interior of the Länder (IMK) decided to introduce an annual National Alert Day. In October 2016, after several years of preparations, the project "Warnung der Bevölkerung" (Warning the People) was launched by federal and state governments. The project is scheduled to run until the end of 2020 and aims to put in place an optimised common alert concept. 75 per cent of the costs are co-financed by the European Union, and the other 25 per cent are shared between the federal and state governments.

Where can I find information on the Nationwide Alert Day?

You will find general information on the Warnung der Bevölkerung website, where you will also find information about the authorities responsible and the events planned in the individual states on Nationwide Alert Day. The responsible local authority will be able to provide you with information about the activities in your area.