Magazine / Emergency & Crisis Management Sep 4, 2023 9:00:00 AM

IT-Alert: the public alert system of the Italian Civil Protection in 5 points

The Italian Civil Protection has recently activated a new public alert system to inform the affected population of imminent or ongoing major emergencies and disasters, in order to facilitate the adoption of protective measures.

The system is called IT-Alert and has been set up with the aim of integrating the information and communication methods already used by the National Civil Protection Service in order to allow the rapid dissemination of information about an emergency situation.

But what exactly is it? Let us try to explain it by answering 5 basic questions:

  1. How does it work?

  2. What technology does it use?

  3. How long will the IT-Alert test last?

  4. In which emergency situations are IT-Alert messages sent?

  5. How can integration with other emergency management platforms be ensured?

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How IT-Alert works

IT-Alert involves sending text messages directly to mobile devices located in the area affected by a serious emergency or an imminent or ongoing disaster, without the need to install an app. In this way, it promotes the rapid dissemination of information among people in the same area and minimises individual and collective exposure to danger. During the test phase, only the Civil Protection Department is authorised to send messages via IT-Alert. Subsequently, all components of the National Civil Protection Service will be able to use the system directly.

No user action is required to receive IT-Alert messages. Even if the IT-Alert function in the emergency alert section of the various devices is deactivated, the messages will still reach their destination. Citizens will receive a text message accompanied by a recognisable tone with the sender “IT-Alert”.

The technology used by IT-Alert

IT-Alert messages are distributed by cell broadcast. Any mobile phone connected to the cells of the mobile operator's network can receive an IT-Alert message when it is switched on. The cell-broadcast technology on which this system is based allows messages to be sent within a group of geographically close telephone cells, creating an area that corresponds as closely as possible to the area affected by the emergency.

The particularity of this system is that it can operate even in situations of limited coverage or congestion of the telephone band. The only limitation to receiving IT-Alert notifications is when the mobile devices are used up, in silent mode or have no range.

How long will the IT-Alert test last?

The IT-Alert test started in June 2023 and will run until 13 February 2024. Several areas were involved in this first phase: Tuscany, Sardinia, Sicily, Calabria, Emilia-Romagna, Bolzano and Trento.

The aim of the test is to present IT-Alert as an innovative public warning system designed to reach affected areas in the event of major emergencies and impending disasters. During the test, information campaigns have been carried out for both administrations and citizens to explain the purpose and operation of IT-Alert for civil protection activities.

In which emergency situations are IT-Alert messages sent?

IT-Alert has been developed to provide communication and operational instructions specific to each type of hazard:

  • tsunami generated by an earthquake

  • collapse of a large dam

  • volcanic activity

  • nuclear accidents or radiological emergency situation

  • major industrial accidents

  • intense precipitation

Its ability to adapt to different emergency scenarios makes it a key tool for ensuring the safety and protection of people in the most critical situations.

How can integration with other emergency management platforms be ensured?

IT-Alert has several limitations, including those related to the uncertainty of natural phenomena, scientific complexity, available technological capabilities, and the circumstances under which decisions must be made in emergency situations that require immediate responses. This means that the IT-Alert system must be able to be easily coordinated with other sources of information, including all components of the National Civil Defence Service and emergency and crisis management platforms, in order to provide synergistic and comprehensive communication in crisis situations.


From a technological point of view, the method of integration is the use of CAP (Common Alerting Protocol) messages, which have already been adopted for the dissemination of alert messages. From a procedural point of view, however, it is not yet clear how IT-Alert will be activated outside the department, and it will be necessary to wait for the end of the test.

Safety 1st platform for civil defence operations rooms is already capable of receiving and publishing CAP messages and can therefore already be integrated into the IT-Alert system.

However, the actual integration will take place after the drafting and approval of an official operational protocol to define responsibilities, roles and situations in which the system can be activated.

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