When a critical event happens, every public authority from governments to emergency first responders has a responsibility to ensure that the public are kept informed and safe as events unfold and in the immediate aftermath. This responsibility has been made particularly explicit by the EECC Article 110 requirements that every EU member state must operate a public warning system by June 2022. We take a look at what these requirements are in detail.
The case for emergency alert systems in EECC Article 110
Article 110 of the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC), requires every European Member State to have a public warning system in place by June 2022. Whereas in the past emergency notification systems may have been based on sirens, radio, or TV broadcasts, EECC Article 110 requires a move to mobile phone based alerts that are capable of alerting everyone within an affected area.
Article 110 states that the public warning system must be able to send geo-targeted emergency alerts to everyone affected via a mobile phone in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. The public alerting system must be able to operate without an opt-in requirement, and be accurate enough to reach a very high percentage of people quickly, including visitors in their native languages. The public warning system must also have the ability for two-way communication, and to be able to record the messages that were sent and any responses received.
Mass notification systems are ideal for public warning systems
The ability to deliver public warnings is a central component of purpose built mass notification systems. They are designed to reach as many affected people as possible, as quickly, and securely as possible. Mass notification systems have several advantages for public warning systems.
The ability to reach everyone in an affected area
Mass notification platforms are able to reach all members of the public regardless of whether they have a specific application. Their easy to use public alerting system uses location based geofencing to identify mobile devices within the area, and then utilises SMS to send emergency alerts.
Equally, mass notification systems are able to message even the most casual of visitors to an area. They also offer additional features such as retry options for failed delivery, making sure that everyone gets the message, even if they did not have network coverage when the first notification was sent, or if they reached the emergency area after the first notification was released.
Multiple channels for messaging
The public is not one size fits all, and as a result, emergency alert systems need to be flexible too. While EECC Article 110 requires public warning systems to be primarily based on mobile phones, it is in favour of back up channels. Mass notification platforms offer public warnings over SMS, email, voice, and push messaging, enabling authorities to reach the public in multiple ways.
Quick send out times
Every second counts in a crisis situation, so public warning systems using mass notification platforms are designed to reach the right people quickly, with clear instructions of what to do. Mass notification systems have the ability to create templates that can be saved ready and waiting to be deployed when a crisis strikes, reducing the time it takes to get important information out to the public. This messaging can also be planned in different languages, achieving the requirement to notify visitors in their native languages.
No one wants to have to think about details when a crisis hits. Emergency planning ensures that there are plans, procedures, and messages in place before the crisis hits, so that everyone is kept well informed. Planning also ensures that within the emergency response team everyone knows their roles and tasks, including that of informing the public.
Effective emergency planning also enables post-event analytics, including proof of what was sent out when, and who exactly was notified, and what happened next. This information is invaluable after an event to improve services next time.
A mass notification system may offer additional functionalities, such as follow up messages which are sent to all devices that received the first message. Follow up messages could include further information, or notification that the incident has ended.
Security and data protection
A secure system that can’t be hacked is vital for a public warning system. Mass notification systems are built to be secure.
The data protection requirements of the GDPR are still relevant to a public warning system. As a result, mass notification systems are able to use geo location services and language settings on phones that don’t require personally identifiable information, protecting the privacy of people in the area.
Benefits of multi-purpose applications
A public warning system that is part of a third party mass notifications platform will benefit greatly from their supplier’s experience of working not just with public authorities but a wide range of private and operationally sensitive organisations. This experience informs new features and improvements that are added to the system. They will also have their fingers on the pulse of technological and security improvements, which can also be fed down to their products.
Start implementing a public warning system now
June 2022 will come soon, and along with it the requirement to have an emergency public warning system in place.
Learn more about public alerting systems and how they help national and local authorities achieve compliance with EECC Article 110.