Disaster alert system too slow in Latvia

With the damage caused by the storm, the public has raised alarm emphasizing the need for an alert system in such risk situations. The State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) said that procurement is ongoing to allow a new warning system to be implemented next year, Latvian Radio reported on August 9.

A cell broadcast message is similar to a text message, but it works through another communications channel. All mobile operators and also phone models support this solution.

The deputy head of VUGD, Ivars Nakurts, said that by introducing this communication tool, people will be alerted to weather-related hazardous conditions.

“This communication can be sent to a geographical area where there is a potential threat, including the risks and the necessary action,” explained Nakurts, noting that in 2021 the government supported the implementation of the tool but last year funding was granted. The procurement procedure is ongoing. “If everything goes smoothly with purchases, then we hope that such a tool could be introduced in Latvia in summer 2024,” said the spokesman for VUGD.

He said that however, that VUGD had called for such a tool to be introduced back in 2014. “But, as always, in the area of home affairs, there was a fight for priorities and the availability of financial resources,” Nakurts said.

Sending text messages in such cases takes too much time. 

“SMS notification is relatively slow, for example, for one operator to only send this notification information to its customers, it could take six hours in the best case scenario,” explained Nakurts.

This cell broadcasting is expected to cost around €4.3 million. At present, five contestants have applied for the first round of the procurement.

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