As most people probably heard about, there were massive floods in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands about three weeks ago. In Germany about 200 people died (some are still missing), and a discussion started if citizens were warned on time and provided with the correct information so they can go to a safe place. In the meantime, even two officials are investigated over the slow flood response.

What a bit surprising is that in Germany the Cell Broadcast is not employed. The Cell Broadcast is a technology, and part of the GSM standard. Hence, every cell phone supports this. It means that via phone network tower, a message can be distributed to phones which are logged in to that particular tower.

In the Netherlands this is already used since years, and even has its own name: NL-Alert. Also, monthly tests are done if the system works and once in a while one receives such a Cell Broadcast message on the phone. Believe me, you are not gonna miss it, as the sound is very loud.

In Germany, however, some officials state that privacy concerns are one reason why it is not employed.  But this is nonsense, as with a broadcast, by definition, one does not know who the receivers are. Hence there cannot be any privacy concerns (if for me as a privacy advocate).

Luckily, it seems that lots of officials in Germany want that mobile operators enable Cell Broadcast, so in the future when big accidents happen, more people can be notified in advance to be able to safe themselves. But another issue is that people need to know what to do if an alarm is raised. Therefore, it would be good to execute regular trainings in areas where chances of natural disasters are high.