Berlin (dpa) – As a result of the flood disaster and the corona pandemic, the federal government has decided to take the first steps in a new precautionary strategy.
Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) promised closer cooperation between federal and state governments in disaster relief after the federal cabinet meeting in Berlin on Wednesday. At the same time, he promised that in the future the population should also be warned by text message in the event of flooding and other dangers.
The chairman of the federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief (BBK), Armin Schuster, ordered a feasibility study in the spring to alert by cell broadcasting, Seehofer said. Schuster assumes that the expected result for the general election will be positive.
“Cell broadcast, or the SMS alert, should be part of the alert system,” Deutsche Telekom boss Tim Höttges wrote on the LinkedIn network. The Telekom could set up the necessary system for this.
Cell broadcasting vs SMS
In cell broadcasting, a message is sent to mobile phone users in the same way as an SMS – to all recipients who are currently in the relevant radio cell. Data protectionists consider this technology, which is already used in many other countries, to be relatively harmless. Seehofer emphasized that a mix of analog and digital methods is needed to warn of acute dangers. Sirens alone are not a panacea, because “only acoustic warning is not enough, the population also needs to know what to do”.
The National Health Protection Reserve, now decided by the cabinet, is intended to be the first part of a comprehensive civil protection strategy. In the medium term, facilities for crises such as floods and major fires need to be improved. There are also plans for a joint federal and state competence center at the BBK, in which the Bundeswehr and aid organizations are also involved.
Better prepared for crises
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) sees Germany better prepared for future crises with the new reserve. The corona pandemic had painfully demonstrated dependencies, he said. “Buying in an emergency is always more expensive,” Spahn said. The reserve is intended to be used in pandemics and disasters such as now in West Germany and in the event that Germany needs to support allies.
The “National Health Protection Reserve” is intended to cover the needs of the health sector and the federal government for up to six months and to “enable humanitarian aid by providing protective equipment to the World Health Organization and third countries”. This is to be achieved “by stocking up on goods and maintaining production capacity and new production”.
In doing so, the federal government draws conclusions from the deficit that came to light during the corona pandemic. Initially, protective suits and masks were missing. Covid-19 testing was scarce for a while.
Make better use of the resources of the BBK Competence Center
“What we can improve in general is just the mutual exchange,” says Seehofer, referring to the planned BBK competence center. The resources of the BBK, which until now was mainly responsible for defense, should be better used in peacetime in the future, according to Seehofer. In addition to the implementation of a concept for the reshuffle of the Bonn authority already presented in March, there may also be a “minor legislative amendment” in the autumn.
It is also useful to consider whether it should continue to run in such a way that every disaster management manager in his municipality decides for himself when the population is warned, or whether it is not more logical that the central government automatically becomes active at certain risk levels. Seehofer emphasized that it was a “policy change towards more precautionary measures than support for the states” and not about stripping the states of powers. Despite all the reforms already planned, one must honestly say: “We cannot promise one hundred percent protection”.