Free Emergency Messaging System for Greek Cell Phone Users

Photo by EUROKINISSI/Giorgos Kontarinis.

ATHENS – Greek cell phone users will finally be able to get text messages indicating public emergencies and they will be free, the government refuting reports the users would be charged for being alerted about dangers.

Government sources who weren’t identified told Kathimerini that an agreement was reached between the Ministry of Digital Governance and the country’s telecom providers.

“To have a charge, you first need a relevant agreement (with the companies,_) which doesn’t exist,” they reportedly said.

That came after the General Secretariat for Civil Protection said the messages will be sent using the Cell Broadcast system, which allows for messages to be sent to multiple mobile telephone users in a defined area at the same time.

The new system will send messages to mobile phones in areas under threat in the event of a natural disaster will receive text messages with helpful information. It was not operating yet during the July 23, 2018 wildfires north of Athens that killed 102 people.

The government sources said these messages are unstructured data and, once the system is up and running, will be sent directly from Civil Protection, which means there will be no charge with no explanation as to why there might have been one even contemplated.

The SMS system was introduced as an interim solution until the 112 European Union emergency hotline becomes functional as of January 2020 with successive Greek governments lagging over the simple method of letting cell phone users know about dangers such as fires, floods, and heavy rains.