On Sunday at 2:25 p.m. local time, cell phones located in the Community of Madrid received a scandalous notice that even irked the presenters. in the news of TV. This is a very common system in other countries, such as the United States, Japan and Canada, but it has just been launched in Spain, after being approved in 2022 and tested in all autonomous communities since then.
This technology, which allows Civil Protection authorities to send generalized and immediate alert messages only in emergency situations, has generated debate among politicians and journalists as to whether it is an intrusion into privacy or whether its use was excessive. The Andalusian president, Juanma Moreno, He complained about the lack of “rigor” of mass shipping, which has generated much criticism, including those of AEMET itself.
Do the authorities have my number? The system that sent the message is based on cell broadcast technology, which involves a simple broadcast to all terminals that can receive it in the vicinity of one or more telephone antennas (the infrastructures give signals to mobile phones). . With this method, the sender (Civil Protection) knows nothing about the devices receiving the alert, much less about their owners. It is as if the antennas were a sprinkler, which wets all the telephones that are in its broadcast radius, without knowing specifically who, nor their numbers, nor their users, nor receiving information about their location.
Who receives it? As the Indra subsidiary (SIA) that developed this system in Spain explained to EL PAÍS, “the antennas will radiate, as a broadcast or transmission, the alert to all the terminals that are connected to them.” That is, only mobile phones that are capable of receiving it in the vicinity of those antennas, which are the most important key in an emergency like this: it is not a question of Spaniards receiving it, or people who appear on a list or register, but those who are in an area in danger. Therefore, these alerts also affect tourists who are in the risk area.
Is it sent when the authorities want? No, the authorities cannot make these shipments at will. As explained by Leonardo Marcos, general director of Civil Protection, in an interview with EL PAÍS a year ago, this route will only be used during an “emergency situation of collective impact of a certain severity.” That is, at Civil Protection alert levels 1 and 2 (of three levels established by the protocol). In the case of this rain alert, the Community of Madrid was at level 1 of the flood plan. For example, it would have been useful both in the eruption of the La Palma volcano and during the Filomena storm, marked as level two. It will also be used for future floods or even tsunamis that may occur in some areas of the Spanish coast. According to SIA, “these are incidents and crisis situations, such as cyberattacks, terrorism, the effects of extreme natural phenomena…”.
Who sends it? The decision is made by the directorates of 112 of each autonomy, as happened in this case in the Community of Madrid. Cell diffusion alerts are issued automatically from 20 centers: 112 of each Autonomous Community (19 in total) and the National Emergency Monitoring and Coordination Center (CENEM) of the General Directorate of Civil Protection. It is issued from one center or another depending on where the emergency occurred and the area that needs to be alerted.
Why did some mobile phones not receive it? The alert reaches the terminals close to the active antennas as long as they are compatible with the system. For it to work and the citizen to be able to receive the notices, they must have a current smartphone and not have Civil Protection notifications disabled on their terminal. In addition, it also depends on updates from software companies and collaboration from telephone companies for everything to run correctly.
How do you make it ring on all terminals at the same time? As Marcos explained, this diffusion system is “ultra-fast, works in real time, takes up very little bandwidth and is automatic for all devices found in the predetermined area.” Avoid sending messages by SMS, a system that is used during other emergencies, because it can suffer delays or network saturation problems. The system, which follows the ES-Alert protocol, is also known as “reverse 112”, since in this case it is the authorities who contact citizens. Another of its advantages is that you do not need to have any application downloaded on your mobile to receive the alert: it affects all devices equally.
Can it be disabled? Some people yesterday criticized the intrusion that the Administration supposes to be able to have the telephone number of the entire population. Apart from the fact that its use is very restricted to serious emergency situations, users of smart terminals can deactivate this option. You can block the arrival of these notices to a specific mobile phone by browsing the device’s advanced notification settings. In this section, you can modulate by type of notice, the way in which it will be notified and even review the history of previously received alerts. In any case, the authorities do not know the telephone number and identity of the users who receive the alerts.
Is it an exceptional Spanish system? No, it is implemented in numerous countries such as the United States, Mexico, Japan, Canada and the Netherlands, which use the system to warn of floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, fires, child abductions and even the presence of wild bears in the environment.
Since when has it been operating in Spain? It has just been launched in recent months, since its use was approved in 2022. Both SIA and Civil Protection explain that this system is implemented based on a European Directive that requires member countries to have an alert system for their entire population before June 21, 2022 “to better protect citizens, visitors and tourists during natural disasters and other crisis situations.” Since its launch, it has been tested in different autonomous regions (also Madrid) between October and November of last year.
You can follow EL PAÍS Tecnología on Facebook and Twitter or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.
Subscribe to continue reading
Read without limits
#mobile #phones #rain #alert #invade #privacy