1. GA-English
  2. News

WarningDay2020: Public warning system to be tested in Bonn

WarningDay2020 : Public warning system to be tested in Bonn

WarningDay2020 ("Warntag2020") is coming up this Thursday and it will be about more than just sirens going off. Disaster control officers throughout Germany will also be testing on the Nina App, radio and TV. So when your phone starts buzzing and loud sirens fill the air on September 10 - remember, it’s only a test. There is no imminent danger.

For the first time since German reunification, all civil defense sirens and other warning devices will be activated throughout the country on Thursday at 11:00 a.m. sharp. Digital billboards will take a commercial break on "WarningDay2020" to relay test warnings, and radio and television stations will interrupt their programs. In short: On September 10, all available warning devices will be tested nationwide in order to reach as many people as possible.

At the Federal Ministry for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK), its president Christoph Unger explained what is planned. "The warning signal is an enormously important aspect of the entire civil protection and civil defense system," he said. "With the WarningDay, we want to put the warning procedures through their paces, and at the same time inform people about their purpose and importance.” The warning App Nina has been available since 2015 and is an integral part of the system.

The warning exercise starts at 11 a.m.

At 11 a.m. on Thursday, September 10, 15,000 sirens, emergency vehicles with loudspeakers and electronic billboards will take part in the civil alarm test all across Germany. Radio and television stations will go silent. Instead of regular programming, this text will run on the display: „Heute findet der bundesweite Warntag statt. Er dient der Erprobung der Warnsysteme. Eine Gefahr für die Bevölkerung besteht nicht“. It means: "Today is the nationwide warning day. It serves to test the warning systems. There is no danger for the population". The current 7.5 million users of the "Emergency Information and News App" (Nina) should receive a similar message. Experience gained during the past NRW-wide warning days was used to stabilize the App and make it available for up to 40 million users. The Nina App can be downloaded from the BBK home page or from the App store. It’s the first time that the YouTube channel will also be involved in the public warning system test. At 11:20 am, the end of the test will be announced. Going forward, the warning system test day is to take place every second Thursday in September.

Possibilities for sending more complex content over long distances have radically expanded since the end of the Cold War. The BBK, too, took advantage of digitization to reach the German population, many of whom were known to be unaware (of possible dangers). The meaning of public warning sirens, which used to be explained on the back of telephone directories, is something that very few people understand today when it comes to an emergency. "Warnings are effective if the receiver can interpret the signals correctly and act according to the recommendations," the president of the BBK explained. Nina is to use push notifications and constantly updated content to provide recipients with information and coordinated recommendations for action in the event of natural disasters, attacks or other dangerous situations. The App is connected to the satellite-supported Modular Warning System (MoWas), which enables the BBK to send warnings to authorities as well as to broadcasters and other warning system distributors as quickly and in a coordinated manner as possible.

To avoid misunderstandings, Unger made it clear that the WarningDay was not about "stirring up fear or hysteria". "We want to incorporate the topic of warning into people's everyday lives and deal with the challenges of a nationwide exercise involving all levels of government and local authorities in an objective and transparent manner.” Head of department Hendrik Roggendorf also put a lid on possible conspiracy theories. "Through the annual WarningDay we want the population to become familiar with the system and make it routine. People should come to terms with the topic. Then the individual critical voices in the social networks will also subside", said Roggendorf. The head of department praised the good cooperation with the city and the fire department, which had promised full cooperation from the start. The BBK did not want to reveal the punch line of the humorous “Warning” App advertisement until Thursday so it would remain a big surprise for recipients.

Orig. test: Jakub Drogowski. Translation: ck