Portugal’s emergency alert system to receive ‘super fast’ upgrade

Citizens should get alerts over bad weather, fires, “faster and more effective than text messages”

Portugal is to have a new system of warnings for the public in case of adverse events, (bad weather/ rural fires, etc), based on a broadcast technology by mobile network “faster and more effective than current text messages”, writes Lusa today.

The decree that aims to implement the warning system by cell broadcast – a technology that allows sending emergency alerts to thousands of users simultaneously in a few seconds – appears in State gazette Diário da República today.

Signed by the ministers of interior administration (José Luís Carneiro) and infrastructures (João Galamba), the document determines that ANEPC – the national authority for emergency and civil protection – SGMAI – the general secretariat of the ministry of the interior, and national communications authority ANACOM will start working on creating a cell broadcast warning system.

The three entities should deliver to a report to the government by June “with the conclusions of their work and the formulation of proposals”, says Lusa.

According to the ordinance, ANEPC, SGMAI and ANACOM have to identify constraints associated with implementation of the new system and present a schedule with the list of measures to be developed for its implementation. They will also have to provide an estimate on how much it will all cost.

In other words, “Portugal is to have a new system of warnings to the public”, but no-one knows when, or how much it will cost yet.

Since 2018, Civil Protection has run a preventative warning system using text messages sent via mobile phone. This is thought to be a little ‘clunkety-clunk’ in view of technological advances since.

The “cell broadcast” system, for example, allows for the sending emergency alerts to all mobile networks – 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G – without causing saturation in the mobile network. Citizens receive the alerts according to their location at the time – meaning visitors from other countries will also receive the alert in their own language, “almost in real time (4 to 10 seconds)”, says Lusa.

In the ordinance published today, the government mentions that the national strategy for a preventive civil protection 2030 establishes that, by 2027, technological solutions of high reach must be used, taking into account the increased frequency and intensity of extreme meteorological phenomena, and the importance of strengthening the mechanisms of warning and early warning for emergency situations.

Source: LUSA