IT-alert is the new public alert system to provide immediate information to the population, which broadcasts alert messages to mobile phones in a specific geographical area in case of upcoming or ongoing major emergencies or disasters.
IT-alert is currently in experimental phase.
Once operational, the National Civil Protection Service will integrate the information and communication procedures already in place to inform the population for certain emergency events with IT-alert, to encourage the adoption of self-protection measures for specific risk and context.
IT-alert complements existing warning systems at local level. It is not life-saving as such; rather, it is aimed at enabling the rapid delivery of early information on possible dangerous situations with respect to a specific event either already occurred or imminent.
The IT-alert message is delivered to people with an active mobile phone located in the area affected by the emergency or calamitous event.
The IT-alert service complies with the international standard "Common Alerting Protocol" (CAP) to ensure full interoperability with other systems, at national and international level, for dissemination of alerts, emergency warnings and public notices.
The IT-alert service, as required by the EU Directive 2018/1972 for public warning systems and the Italian Electronic Communications Code, is activated in case of major emergencies, imminent or ongoing calamitous events. Primarily focused on certain types of events, it is not activated in case of events with high uncertainty, highly localised or with extremely limited predictability or range of evolution.
IT-alert is currently still in the experimental phase.
When operational, it will be used for the following types of risks in the civil protection field, as currently provided for in the Directive of February 7, 2023:
- tsunami generated by an earthquake;
- collapse of a large dam;
- volcanic activity, with respect to the Vesuvius, Campi Flegrei, Vulcano and Stromboli volcanoes;
- nuclear accidents or radiological emergency situation;
- major accidents in establishments subject to Legislative Decree No. 105 of June 26, 2015 (Seveso Directive);
- intense precipitation
During this experimental phase, the Civil Protection Department is responsible for the sending of IT-alert messages, however, as stipulated in the Directive of the Minister for Civil Protection and Marine Policies of February 7, 2023, all components of the National Civil Protection Service will progressively be able to use the system.
Users in the affected area will receive a text message, with a clearly identifiable sound to indicate the sender (IT-alert), which differs from classic ring tones.
During the experimental phase, the focus is to raise awareness of IT-alert, and make the message both identifiable and familiar, and to test the technology. Then, users will be asked to fill out a questionnaire useful to implement the system.
The IT-alert public warning system experiences limitations related to uncertainty in natural phenomena, scientific uncertainty, available technological capabilities, and the circumstances in which assessment and decision-making activities take place, often in urgent and emergency contexts that require immediate decisions. Also, it is necessary to consider that limitations related to the latency, uncertainty and/or unavailability of data, measurements and information of possible malfunction and/or dysfunction of equipment and networks, and the margin of error stemming from the essential discretion of assessment and decision-making activities may exist.
One of the limitations of the cell-broadcast technology used to send IT-alert messages is the impossibility of perfectly overlapping the area estimated to be potentially affected by the emergency with the area covered by the antennas of the telephone operators being used to send the messages. This means that there will be devices in areas outside the region occasionally involved in the experimental phase that may receive an IT-alert message and devices in affected areas that may not receive the message.