National disaster-alert system 'a success', almost 600,000 messages sent

National disaster-alert system 'a success', almost 600,000 messages sent
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On Thursday morning, authorities from 204 cities and municipalities in Belgium sent out 593,727 test messages to residents of municipalities who are part of the system.

"This test had three goals," said Yves Stevens from the Belgian Crisis Centre to The Brussels Times. "We wanted to see if it worked, we wanted to test the capacity and speed of the system, and we wanted to raise awareness. We asked the municipalities to communicate about it, but we noticed that people have started posting about it too," he added.

Launched as a pilot project in 2014, BE-Alert is meant to offer authorities an alternative way of alerting citizens in addition to messages on social and mass media.

593,727 alerts were sent in 204 cities and municipalities, of which 417,640 text messages, 52,304 voice messages and 123,783 e-mails. The test took place on Thursday morning, and was trending on Twitter all afternoon.

"We had some very small technical issues in some places, but discovering those issues is exactly what these kinds of tests are for. Overall, the test was a success," Stevens added.

More than 627,000 addresses are registered on the alarm platform to which 80% of Belgian cities and municipalities are connected. Over the past two years, the population has been warned in 135 emergency situations thanks to this system, including fires, water unsuitable for consumption and power cuts.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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