This is how Es-Alert works, the sound alert system that was activated in Madrid before DANA | The USA Print

This is how Es-Alert works, the sound alert system that was activated in Madrid before DANA

The DANA that has devastated the south of the Community of Madrid and the province of Toledo was preceded by an alert. This started ringing on most phones. A measure that has been criticized by some people, since it generated some uneasiness. But that is precisely what these types of alerts intend. They activate a powerful sound on our phones accompanied by a message that explains the reasons for the alert.

Cell broadcast technology is used to launch these alerts. This journalist was able to see how the system worked in Taiwan in 2016, during the development of the Computex electronics fair. But despite the setting it was not a drill or a demo. An alarm appeared on the screen of the iPhone 6S Plus that he was using at the time to warn that a magnitude 7 earthquake was taking place.

The Civil Protection message that the citizens of the Community of Madrid have received this Sunday, alert for the storm.

The Civil Protection message that the citizens of the Community of Madrid have received this Sunday, alert for the storm.


Curiously, no one present was perturbed upon receiving the alert. Especially when verifying that the earthquake was hardly felt, something that is due to the fact that these alerts are frequent there and the important infrastructure that Taiwan has to alleviate the effects of tremors. But when an alert of this type arrived yesterday to the phones of people traveling on the Madrid Metro, which has mobile coverage, some panicked.

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Something that is normal if we take into account that Spain has not been a country hit hard by natural disasters. This lack of experience has even led some to fantasize that their phones have ghosting features. But the truth is that cell technology for issuing emergency messages is an old acquaintance of our phones.

Any phone with iOS 6 or Android 5.1 can receive these alerts, whose protocol is established in the global system for mobile communications. Its reception is not based on SMS messages, which are sent en masse from point to point. In the case of these alerts, the issuer sends the message from point to mass through the network of telephone antennas in a specific area (it does not matter if the technology is 2G, 3G, 4G or 5G).

Several mobile phone antennas

The alerts work through the GSM mobile phone system, but do not use the standard data network


This technology, which hardly varies between countries, is managed by different governments. Its use saves lives and prevents property damage. In Spain the system is called ES-Alert and the issuer cannot even know the telephone numbers that have received it. In fact, the alerts even reach phones without a SIM card. It is something similar to what happens if we want to call 112, it is enough to be connected to the telephone network.

The main advantage of using cell broadcast technology is that the bandwidth dedicated to conventional communications is not occupied. This is very important, because even if the mobile telephone network is saturated, the alarm system would continue to operate.

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Any phone with iOS 6 or Android 5.1 can receive these alerts, which are not activated when the phone is turned off or out of coverage

The fact that a sharp beep sounds that forces us to pick up the phone to confirm that we have read the alarm message makes all the sense in the world. Someone may have their phone away from them or be asleep, not knowing that their life may be in danger.

This obviously can lead to situations that can be problematic for some people. Like discovering that there is a telephone at home that we do not know and that may belong to someone with whom we live. Yesterday yesThe video of a man on TikTok went viral who discovered an infidelity through the alarm system. Her wife had a phone in her house with which she communicated with her lover, the phone revealed her existence when it began to ring due to an alert.


Effects of the Dana in Aldea del Fresno, in the Community of Madrid)


The alert system can be deactivated on the phone. Although it is not recommended at all. An operation that can be carried out easily by searching for the word “alerts” in the mobile phone settings. This option is in a different area of ​​the operating system, depending on the Android customization layer or if we use an iPhone. Be careful, because there are phones that may not have it activated by default. So you should check this.

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In Spain Es-Alert was launched on June 21, 2022, too late considering that there are countries that have been using this technology for a long time. If this alert system had been active when the Filomena snowstorm wreaked havoc, surely the balance of damage would have been less.

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The Civil Protection message that the citizens of the Community of Madrid have received this Sunday, alert for the storm.

It is important to know several things about Es-Alert. The first of these is that it does not activate with the phone turned off or out of coverage. So those who usually sleep with their phone off should leave it on and with coverage if they suspect that an alarm may occur.

Es-Alert cannot work with the phone turned off or without network coverage, so putting the phone in airplane mode is not an option either. The message or messages will arrive, but only when the phone is turned on or has coverage. This is not a service from which we can unsubscribe.


Airplane mode prevents you from receiving these alerts.

Third parties

In the same way that an ambulance siren sounds to alert us to its presence, Es-Alert alerts us to an emergency situation around us. Not only for our own safety, but also for the risks that other people may run if we ignore this alert. That is why we cannot unsubscribe from Es-Alert nor should it be silenced.

The criticism that many made for receiving this alert issued by the Community of Madrid was caused because in the capital of Spain the rains did not seem to be taught so much with the city. But the truth is that the DANA has wreaked havoc in the south of the Community of Madrid and in the province of Toledo. We will never know what would have happened if this alert had not been issued, but surely the situation would have been more serious if many people had not taken precautions against the storm.

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