Belgian authorities to launch app for communication in times of crisis
Belgium will soon be launching an app that can be used by the authorities to communicate with the population in times of crisis. The app will replace the existing B-Alert text messaging service. The news that a crisis communication app is on the way first appeared in Saturday morning’s edition of the Francophone daily La Libre and has since been confirmed by VRT News sources.
Once the new app is launched longer messages that could also include photos and links to videos will be able to be sent. Like with the current B-Alert text messaging system registration will be voluntarily.
The Federal Government has asked Frank Robben (photo above), the man behind the IT systems at health care and social security departments in Belgium, to develop a kind of Belgian version of WhatsApp that will be used for communication in times of crisis.
“Text messages have limitations and are expensive. It is not easy to inform people in a sufficiently precise way using just 160 characters," Mr Robben says.
Once it is launched the new app will allow the authorities to provide the public with more information about a given crisis situation. "These will be messages of public interest, related to public health, flood risks or crisis issues", Mr Robben said.
The messages will be free-of-charge. The new application should be ready in two weeks.