Czech MEP helps bring about Europe-wide mobile disaster alerts

Europeans will in future receive instant alerts on their mobile phones if they are close to a terrorist attack or natural disaster. The system, known as Reverse 112, was pushed through by Czech MEP Dita Charanzová and has just been approved.

Dita Charanzová, photo: Eva Dvořáková / Czech RadioDita Charanzová, photo: Eva Dvořáková / Czech Radio The European Union recently released a dramatic video highlighting the need for reliable real-time information “when disaster or violence strikes”.

That’s why, it tells viewers, the European Union is putting in place a Europe-wide public warning system that would also counter the spread of rumours and fake news in emergency situations.

The system is known as Reverse 112 and will take the form of mobile telephone alerts. It takes its name from the common free emergency number.

Leading the drive to implement the change has been Czech MEP Dita Charanzová, who ran on ANO’s ticket.

She spoke to Czech Radio hours after the bill was passed in the European Parliament on Wednesday.

“Just yesterday we remembered the anniversary of the Paris terrorist attacks. I’m sure we all hope such a thing doesn’t happen in Europe again. We need to be prepared for similar situations.”

However, the system would not only be used in the case of violent attacks, the MEP said.

Illustrative photo: Lenka ŽižkováIllustrative photo: Lenka Žižková “What we have approved involves a warning signal being in place across the whole of Europe. It will be used if a catastrophe occurs, such as a terrorist attack. But it will also be used if there is flooding or fires. We will automatically receive a text message and will be informed about what is happening as quickly as possible. I’m very glad that this system will be in place by 2022 at the latest.”

The text messages people receive will outline the nature of the threat, its location and what steps citizens should take.

MEP Dita Charanzová – whose bill is also bringing in cheaper cross-border mobile calls within the EU – says she hopes EU members will adopt Reverse 112 before the deadline.

In fact, it is already in place in the Netherlands and Romania. The US and several other countries also use the system.

Many European states, including the Czech Republic, currently use the same kind of municipal sirens that would have been in place in WWII to alert people to danger.

The sound of sirens being tested at noon on the first Wednesday of every month will be familiar to anybody living in Prague or other Czech cities and towns.

However, the advent of mobile phone alerts means that such sirens – long a regular feature of so many people’s lives – should disappear within four years, the news site iDnes.cz reported.