PSCE Hosts First Event in Workshop Series on New Public Warning Requirements
Friday, May 17, 2019 | Comments

On 16 May, Public Safety Communications Europe (PSCE) launched a program to support national authorities to define the requirements for the design of national public warning systems (PWS) based on solid experience and lessons learned from other countries.

With the European Electronic Communications Code going into force, member states have until 21 June 2022 to make sure that their PWS will send alerts to people’s mobile phones in the event of a natural disaster, terrorist attack or other major emergency.

PSCE hosted the first workshop at the Belgian Federal Police, and representatives from 11 countries, as well as some of the world’s leading suppliers of public warning platforms, attended. Delegates heard from the European Commission on the new EU rules affecting the requirements for a compliant PWS. The event’s facilitator, Michael Hallowes, the former national director of Australia’s Emergency Alert Program, also shared his expertise.

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 with them. This focused first on identifying the overriding design principles as the benchmarks against which to evaluate available technologies. The workshop also included 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, including balancing public-safety benefits with the potential impacts on both political and societal issues. Examples would be the level of access and reach of the system to every citizen, government accountabilities and considerations for data privacy.

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

To help countries make informed decisions to accelerate national implementation processes, PSCE can provide a targeted national workshop with senior users from different competent authorities. PSCE will also host more workshops on PWS.

Workshops are preliminarily scheduled for October 2019 at a yet to be determined location, December 2019 at the French Ministry of Interior in Paris, and May 2020 at a yet to be determined location.

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

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