PSCE public warning system workshop held

Monday, 20 May, 2019

PSCE public warning system workshop held

The first Public Safety Communication Europe (PSCE) collaborative workshop on public warning systems was held in Belgium on 16 May.

Following the entry into force of the European Electronic Communications Code, Member States have until 21 June 2022 to make sure that their public warning system (PWS) will send alerts to people’s mobile phones in the event of a natural disaster, terrorist attack or other major emergency.

The PSCE has launched a program to support national authorities to define the requirements for the design of their national PWS based on solid experience and lessons learnt from other countries.

The first workshop was hosted at the Belgian Federal Police. 11 countries were represented along with some of the world’s leading suppliers of public warning platforms. Delegates also had the benefit of hearing directly from Mr Bara, European Commission (DG Connect), on the new EU rules affecting the requirements for a compliant public warning system. The event benefited from the expertise shared by its facilitator, Michael Hallowes, the former National Director of Australia’s Emergency Alert Program.

The principle was to be operationally driven and non-technical. The day was framed around navigating a simplified path to decision-making on the design, using a clear project structure set out in a workbook that participants could take away. This focused first on identifying the overriding design principles as the benchmarks against which to evaluate available technologies. Thereafter, a review of the essential operational and functional requirements needed to deliver the most effective PWS.

This exposed the complexities involved in this critical design phase. These included balancing public safety benefits with the potential impacts on both political and societal issues; for example, the level of access and reach of the system to every citizen, government accountabilities and considerations for data privacy.

“This structured approach to developing the requirements and understanding the consequences of our choices would have accelerated finalising the strategy for the design and implementation of our national public warning system, Be-Alert. I recommend to anyone involved in public warning systems to take advantage of hands-on expertise, such as provided by PSCE,” said Koen De Budt, Project Manager at Be-Alert, Belgium.

“This workshop was enormously helpful to understand the essential components that we need to build into an effective warning system for Finland. We have already [the] 112 Suomi application having 1.7 million downloads but still there is a need to make the system more effective. Everyone with responsibility for the design to delivery of their national public warning system needs to take advantage of the customised national workshops offered by PSCE and to the follow-up series in order to make the best informed decisions,” said Jyrki Heinonen, Chief of C2Centre, Emergency Response Centre Agency, Finland.

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