“We want to do more and there is room for growth here with regard to the warning component to the population. Our objective, and we are working on it, is to move from SMS alerts to a cellular broadcast system”, said Patrícia Gaspar in parliament.

The Secretary of State, together with the president of the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority (ANEPC), Duarte da Costa, was heard this afternoon at the parliamentary committee on Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Freedoms and Guarantees on the heavy rains and floods that occurred in the Lisbon area on the night of December 7, 2022, at an audition requested by Chega.

Since 2018, the Civil Protection has a preventive warning system for the population via SMS (text messages via mobile phone), which is sent to citizens who are in the districts where the adverse weather phenomenon occurs.

Patrícia Gaspar said that the Government started working on the new system of warnings to the population “before this episode” of floods in the Lisbon region occurred, having made “the first exploratory contacts with the entities that have the capacity to develop this type of systems” .

“We already had a first working meeting with ANEPC, we already had a meeting scheduled with the infrastructure area, we have to involve the National Communications Authority for this issue”, he said, estimating that this new system will be working in “one year”. year or year and a half”.

Cell broadcast system is a method of sending messages to multiple mobile phone users, which can reach a large number of phones at once.

The president of ANEPC explained to deputies that the SMS preventive system created in 2018, at the time, for rural fires “is not a solution for everything” and has “a latency of five hours”.

“In the episode of the 7th of December, when the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere (IPMA) issued the red notice at 10:26 pm, any message sent to the population would arrive much later than its preventive need, for this we have to evolve”, he said.

Duarte Costa underlined that the preventive SMS reaches the population “two or three hours after” ANEPC gives the information to mobile phone operators.

With the new system, notices will be much faster.

The issue of SMS warnings to the population on the night of December 7, which were not issued by ANEPC, was raised by some opposition parties, namely Chega, PSP and Bloco de Esquerda.

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