IT-alert: first test in Lombardy, Basilicata and Molise. Here’s how it went where it’s already happened

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No alarms, it’s just an experiment. At 12 all cell phones in Milan and in the Lombardy region will receive a message accompanied by a unique and recognizable sound. This is the first test of IT-Alert in Lombardy, the new national alert system promoted by the Department of Civil Protection which, after the testing phase, will be able to promptly inform the population in the event of serious imminent or ongoing emergencies. The same thing will happen at the same time in Basilicata and Molise.

On 21 September tests in Lazio, Valle d’Aosta and Veneto

The calendar then includes the test on September 21st, when the messages will arrive in Lazio, Valle d’Aosta and Veneto. On September 26th it will be the turn of Abruzzo and the Autonomous Province of Trento. On 27 September cell phones will ring in Liguria, on 13 October in the Autonomous Province of Bolzano.

When the system is activated

After the first testing phase, the alert system will be activated in the event of a tsunami, dam collapse, volcanic activity, nuclear accidents, accidents in chemical plants and in the event of intense rainfall and hydrogeological instability. The system is one-way (from the telephone operator to the device) and does not allow receiving any type of return data or feedback from the cell phones reached. This means that no personal data of the person receiving the message is processed in any way by the Department of Civil Protection and by the relevant telephone operator.

Almost 800 thousand questionnaires have been completed so far

So far, 792,611 questionnaires have been completed following the activities of the first five IT-alert tests carried out between the end of June and the beginning of July 2023 in Tuscany, Sardinia, Sicily, Calabria and Emilia-Romagna. 90% of those who responded stated that they had received the test message, while the remaining 10% indicated that they had not received it although they were in the area concerned on the day and time of the tests. Of those who received the message, 97% responded that they found it clear. Again compared to the total of those who indicated that they had received the message correctly, 84% declared that they had no difficulty in interacting with the IT-Alert notification, while the remaining 16% indicated that the main difficulty encountered was that due to the fact that the message disappears after viewing.

Feeling of fear for 20%, 15% surprised

Although 86% of participants confirmed that they had heard about IT-alerts in the days preceding the testing activities, mainly via social media and the web, a feeling of fear when receiving the message was still reported by 20%, while 15% said they were surprised. To the question “Did you immediately understand that it was an institutional message?” 59% responded positively, while a good portion of those who filled out the questionnaire said they thought it could be a virus. These contributions, they underlined, «are fundamental because they allow us to identify any elements on which it is necessary to work further and improve this new system as a whole.”

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