Luxembourg's Ministry of State and the Ministry of Home Affairs have confirmed that the "LU-Alert" national warning system is expected to be operational before the end of 2023.
Since 2021, the Luxembourg Government, under the coordination of the Minister of Home Affairs, has been working on the overhaul of the national alert system. Public alerts are considered an essential tool to enable the public to prepare themselves for an event that is difficult to predict and that may present a threat so that they can take the necessary precautions to take shelter or safeguard their property and to become increasingly resilient.
"Building resilience into the way we live is a fundamental challenge for our society. An effective warning system that is able to mobilise multiple channels of communication and respond quickly reduces the risk to people and property. It is an essential component of a resilient society. I am delighted with the efforts made by the many actors involved in the construction of this alert project, which will ultimately save lives", said Luxembourg's Prime Minister and Minister of State, Xavier Bettel.
LU-Alert will be based on a global and multi-channel approach. Global, because all national authorities wishing to alert the population will be able to do so effectively and efficiently, and multi-channel, because the system will use various communication channels, including social networks, a mobile application, geo-localised SMS or messages sent by cell broadcast.
To achieve this, the redesign was divided into two parts: firstly, the government wanted to improve the existing means of communication used to alert the population in the event of a major hazard. More specifically, these are zonal SMS messages and the GouvAlert mobile application. Since May 2022, regular tests of the sirens, the sending of messages by SMS and the mobile application have been carried out to test their functionality and effectiveness. The resulting outcomes have enabled the government to draw the necessary conclusions for the development of a modern and coherent national warning system with new accessible technologies, according to the respective ministries.
As such, and owing to public feedback, the tests carried out to date have made it possible to note, in particular with regard to sirens, that the sound emitted is not clearly audible throughout Luxembourg, which means that part of the population cannot be alerted efficiently when only this means is used. As far as the SMS-system is concerned, there can be a certain (sometimes long) delay between the sending and the reception of the message.
"In recent years, we have had to deal with unpredictable events such as bad weather and floods. Considering the impact they have had, it is important for the government to have an effective warning and information system that allows us to warn quickly and efficiently. After improving the existing system, including the mobile application, we need to implement a long-term alert strategy", explained Luxembourg's Minister of Home Affairs, Taina Bofferding.
The core of the future public alerting solution will be a national platform linked to the various communication channels. In March 2022, the government launched a public tender, won in September 2022 by the French company Intersec SA, which, among others, set up "FR-Alert" in France. Since then, the government has been working closely with the mobile network operators, who will also have to set up the necessary infrastructures to ensure their interoperability with the national platform.
Considering that the exchanges between the State and the mobile network operators are going well, and despite the complexity of the technical prerequisites required to set up an interconnected and multi-channel platform, it is estimated that it will be operational before the end of 2023.
The ministries recalled that the future alert system will not at any time collect, record, store, modify, consult or use personal data.