Florence, 27 June 2023 – “This is a test message from Italian public warning system. Once operational, it will warn you in the event of a serious emergency. For information go to the website www.it-alert.it and fill out the questionnaire”. At 12 on Wednesday 28 June this emergency message appears on all smartphones in Tuscany. It is a public warning test system sponsored by the Civil Protection Department. So here it is what IT-Alert is and how it works.
IT-Alert is a public alert system promoted by the Civil Protection Department which was created with the aim of covering the “last mile” of information in the field of civil protection and reaching citizens potentially affected by a emergency situation. The IT-Alert system was tested on a local scale in 2022 in Vulcano, simulating an eruption, and in the province of Reggio Calabria, simulating an earthquake in the Strait area. Other regional tests will follow in Sardinia, Sicily, Calabria, Emilia Romagna.
The person receiving the message doesn’t have to do anything. The message stays on top of your phone until you read it. The questionnaire on the www.it-alert.it page is designed to collect feedback and improve the system where necessary.
This is an experimental phase of the IT-Alert system, which it will last until February 13, 2024. In the initial phase IT-Alert will not be used for all types of catastrophic events but only in case of tidal wave generated by a earthquake, collapse of a big dam, volcanic activity (Vesuvius, Campi Flegrei, Vulcano, Stromboli), nuclear accidents or situation of radiological emergency, accidents relevant in establishments industrial, heavy rainfall.
The use of IT-Alert is excluded for events with high uncertainty, highly localized or with a very small margin of predictability. For each type of risk, operational indications are being prepared by the Head of the National Civil Protection Department.
In future IT-Alert messages, citizens will find written who is sending the message (e.g. “Civil protection”), the reason why it was sent (e.g. “Heavy rain alarm”) and the urgently recommended actions (e.g. , «Reach emergency areas in hills»).
Since this is information sent exclusively to people potentially affected by the emergency, it takes the form of a real Call To Action, a sort of civil activation that allows citizens to protect themselves and others, assuming a role of self-protection more and more active and aware.
The messages sent by the Department of Civil Protection contain information about the risk scenario and related self-protection measures to be adopted quickly as indicated by the campaign iononrischio.protezionecivile.it. The service works with all smartphones (but not with old cell phones) as it complies with the international standard «Common Alerting Protocol» which guarantees complete interoperability with other systems for disseminating alerts and emergency alarms and national and international public notices.
“Tuscany has been indicated by the National Department of Civil Protection as a place to test the new IT-Alert system on a regional scale for the first time – said the president of the Region Eugene Giani -. I can’t help but think that this choice is also connected to the efficiency demonstrated by our civil protection system and to the fruitful relationship of collaboration that has been active for years between the regional sector and the national department. Wednesday I will carefully follow the launch of this system, for the experimental moment, which if perfected will represent a powerful communication tool in real time of critical issues and, therefore, a big step forward towards better management of emergencies and a major safety of people».