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How do disaster warnings work? Example: Israel

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Israel is a good example of how to organize disaster warnings. For years the country has been on constant alert and has pioneered technological innovation. Israeli technology is now even being used in the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

Symbol Israeli Civil Protection via satellite

A typical alert in Israel is a bomb attack. The app "Red Alert: Israel" was developed, among others, to warn against such attacks. This straightforward and uncluttered platform alerts users about missile attacks by indicating both the location and time of the attack so they can seek shelter in time. The app works alongside the siren warning system and is best combined with other apps that provide information on the location of bomb shelters.

Another important application is the "Home Front Command" app, developed by the Israeli force of the same name, which warns against terrorist attacks and disasters caused by the weather. It uses GPS data and tailors its messages to the user's location. This prevents unnecessary panic. Home Front Lieutenant Colonel Shlomi Maman explains: "We are just as critical of alerts being sent to unaffected citizens as alerts not reaching the people that need them...". But this app is not a stand-alone solution either. Instead, it is backed up by siren alarms, e-mail alerts and announcements on radio and TV.

Twitter, of course, is also an important communications tool and it is a good idea to follow the police spokesperson or the official account of the Israeli army (IDF) to receive up-to-date, serious information on your twitter feed.

Those responsible for security at the 2016 Olympic Games have also been briefed on this high tech knowhow. They are banking on Israeli technology for the central personal protection app: with the "SayVu" app automated emergency calls can be sent to the hotline in seconds. And using a customized "hot button" function users can automatically send location data, video, photos or sound recordings to alert the emergency services without having to launch the app, even if their phone screen is locked.

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