IT-alert is currently under testing for several months.
The infrastructure that allows the connection between the CBEs (cell broadcast entities), redundant on two nodes, and the CBCs (cell broadcast centres) of the telephone operators has been set up.
At first, this allowed some tests covering technological implementation, the sending and receiving of messages in different formats, and the analysis of the first feedback, such as during the Civil Protection exercises "Vulcano 2022" and "Sisma dello Stretto 2022".
A major focus is on security aspects of systems and processes, which will be further checked and verified in the forthcoming tests.
Alongside and after the activity to define the technological infrastructure, the testing activity that also involved the population started in 2022.
The IT-alert system was tested for the first time in an operational context during the Exercise "Vulcano 2022", which took place on the island of Vulcano from 7 to 9 April 2022. During the exercise, two messages were sent to the devices located on the island: the first with information on the upcoming simulated eruption event and the rules of conduct to follow (to reach the emergency areas provided for in the Civil Protection plan); a second message alerting citizens to the end of the exercise activities.
From 4 to 6 November 2022, the national Civil Protection exercise "Sisma dello Stretto 2022" took place in Calabria and Sicily. In this context, the IT-alert public system for the tsunami risk was tested for the first time with over 500,000 people who, during the earthquake simulation, were located in the 22 coastal municipalities involved in the exercise, for which a 6.0 magnitude earthquake with epicentre in the province of Reggio Calabria was simulated, possibly triggering a tsunami that could have hit some coastal municipalities in the province of Reggio Calabria and Messina.
During the exercise, this website - which gathered answers to an information questionnaire - was reached by more than 4.5 million users, mostly through the use of mobile devices. Accordingly, 96 per cent of the 20,000 users who answered the questionnaire stated that they had correctly received the IT-alert message.
Starting from June 2023, the first regional tests for sending the message have been carried out in Tuscany, Sardinia, Sicily, Calabria and Emilia-Romagna, by the Civil Protection Department, the Regions involved, the Civil Protection Commission of the Conference of the Regions and Autonomous Provinces, and ANCI.
In September 2023 the following tests have been carried out:
- 12 September in Campania, Friuli-Venezia Giulia e Marche
- 14 September in Piemonte, Puglia e Umbria
- 19 September in Basilicata, Lombardia e Molise
- 21 September in Valle d’Aosta, Veneto e Lazio (postponed)
- 26 September in Abruzzo and in the Autonomous Province of Trento
- 27 September in Lazio and in Liguria
- 13 October in the Autonomous Province of Bolzano
The aim of the test is to introduce IT-alert as a new public warning system that could reach the territories concerned in the event of major emergencies and imminent catastrophic events. The risks and the behaviour to adopt are not detailed in this phase.
During the National Civil Protection Week 2023 a series of tests for sending the IT-alert message in the areas of the Brenta River basin in Valsugana, and in the Autonomous Province of Trento has been carried out. The exercise took place between 9:30 AM and 11:50 AM of October 13, with the aim of testing the system in small areas.
CIMA Foundation, in collaboration with VIE - Valorizzazione Innovazione Empowerment S.r.l., a spin-off of the University of Genoa, conducted an experiment to test the effectiveness of IT-alert message language.
IT-alert will potentially reach everyone with no geographical, age or educational limits. To foster the widest possible understanding, the message language was simplified by making the text's accessibility a key consideration.
A group of researchers, Ph.D.s, and freelancers in the fields of psychology and the human factor drafted a number of messages, varying slightly in content, language register, and terms to be submitted to a sufficiently significant audience of people, and then analyzed the feedback received to see which messages were best understood. Through a call on the it-alert.it website and the Cima Foundation website, a sample was thus constituted, to which the participants, joined on a voluntary and anonymous basis. All of them were first offered a questionnaire necessary for profiling based on each person's knowledge of civil protection.
More than 3,000 volunteers throughout Italy took part in the trial. Through a Bot on Telegram, IT-alert messages have been sent, without scheduled timetables, day and night, from Monday to Sunday. After the sending of the message, a short questionnaire on the effective understanding and the behaviors to adopt was submitted.
The testing also involved the development of specific tests with all smartphone producers. Although all mobile phones have the same broadcast message-receiving capability, minor modifications to the software have been made to customize the user experience according to emergency communication needs.
To improve the IT-alert system, a questionnaire to collect, on a voluntary basis, feedback from people involved in regional tests from June 2023 onwards has been provided.
The questionnaire is created using Microsoft Form technology.
During the process of filling out (before the person concerned selects the "submit" button), Microsoft (the owner of the technology used to create the questionnaire) does not display the IP address of the person who fills out or store the filling-out data, although it would have the possibility to do so. Any data related to the contents of the questionnaire and the IP address of the person concerned neither persists nor is stored in Microsoft systems.
The Civil Protection Department receives the contents of the questionnaire once the person concerned has confirmed by clicking the "submit" button, without any reference to the IP address of the person concerned or any other item making the person identified or identifiable. The Department further collects the data and processes them for statistical/system analysis purposes, always in an anonymous form.
The data collected through the IT-alert test questionnaire are, therefore, anonymous from the outset, as they do not allow the person concerned to be identified, and are used for the sole purpose of analysing the system to improve it and integrate it with regard to the reports.
For further information or clarification, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.