Legal measures

Directive (EU) 2018/1972 of the European Parliament and of the Council of December 11, 2018, establishing the European Electronic Communications Code, introduced the Public warning system. Specifically, the Directive stipulated that "by 21 June 2022, Member States shall ensure that, when public warning systems regarding imminent or developing major emergencies and disasters are in place, public warnings are transmitted by providers of mobile number-based interpersonal communications services to the end-users concerned."  

In Italy, the public warning system was first introduced by Decree Law No. 32 of April 18, 2019, with the aim of ensuring the protection of human life through mobile communication services aimed at users affected by serious emergencies, imminent or ongoing disasters.   

Decree No. 110 of the Prime Minister of June 19, 2020 regulated the mode of activation of the IT-alert system and defined the technical-operational aspects of the service. The decree also established the Technical Committee, which is responsible for monitoring and updating the way the service operates. It was also established that the IT-alert service would enter an experimental phase on October 1, 2020. From this date, all operators should have maintained technological apparatuses (cell broadcast centers) at their premises to receive and transfer messages to all mobile phones in the specified areas.  

Legislative Decree No. 207 of 8 November 2021, implementing EU Directive 2018/1972, provides that the Italian public warning system and the IT-alert service are coincident and the situations where IT-alert can be activated are imminent and ongoing major emergencies and catastrophes that may affect our country , which include Civil Protection events, as defined by the 2018 Civil Protection Code. With the adoption of Legislative Decree 207/2021, the consistency of the Italian system with European indications has therefore been addressed and resolved.  

The Directive of the President of the Council of Ministers of October 23, 2020, updated by the Directive of the Minister for Civil Protection and Sea Policies of February 7, 2023 on "Civil Protection Warning and the IT-alert public warning system", regulated the use of the IT-Alert public warning system with regard to civil protection events and provided for an extension of the trial period until February 13, 2024.  

The Directive identified the following national-level risk scenarios for which an IT-alert message is expected to be sent to inform the public to encourage the implementation of self-protection measures:   

  • earthquake-generated tsunami;    
  • collapse of a large dam;    
  • volcanic activity relative to the volcanoes Vesuvius, Phlegraean Fields, Volcano, and Stromboli;    
  • nuclear accidents or radiological emergency;    
  • major accidents in facilities subject to Legislative Decree No. 105 of June 26, 2015;     
  • heavy rainfall.  

The Directive also provided that during the period of testing, for each type of risk, Operational Indications should be prepared and approved, shared among the different parts of the National Civil Protection Service, including, among other things, for each of the risk scenarios planned, objectives, sending modalities, areas to be warned and contents of the IT-alert message. Therefore, following the agreement of the Unified Conference of January 11, 2024, by the Decree of the Head of Department of Civil Protection of January 19, 2024, the operational indications for the risks mentioned above were adopted, with the exclusion of those for heavy rainfall which are still being finalized. The same Decree also adopted operational indications for the composition of IT-alert messages via the Common Alerting Protocol, Italian CAP IT profile.  

The Directive also laid out the necessary process for operationalizing the IT-alert system. In particular, this process foresees that the Department of Civil Protection will technically evaluate the results of the testing and the likelihood of the system becoming operational with the territorial bodies involved in the specific activity, with the telephone operators, and with the branch of the National Commission for the Forecasting and Prevention of Major Risks responsible for the type of risk involved in the testing phase.  

The decision on operationalizing the system for the different scenarios to continue the testing process must then be agreed upon between the State, regions, and local authorities at the Unified Conference since we are talking about a system of considerable impact on the activities of the National Civil Protection Service at the state, regional and local levels. In this sense, the Unified Conference, in its session of February 8, 2024, also considering the results of the planned comparisons, determined the passage into operation of the IT-alert system for the risk of collapse of large dams, volcanic risk at Vesuvius, Phlegraean Fields and Vulcano, nuclear or radiological risk, major accident in industrial facilities subject to Legislative Decree No. 105 of June 26, 2015.  It also decided to extend the testing period of the IT-alert system for tsunamis, volcanic risk at Stromboli, and heavy rainfall for one year.