Is Europe a puzzle related to crisis communications?
Very recently Galicia (Spain) opened its Twitter account @incendios085, whose main objective is to encourage citizens to call the firefighters emergency number (085) in case they see fire in the woods, according to its Twitter profile, where they also use the hashtag #SeVesLume085 (if you see fire call 085). Galicia decided to promote the old firefighters number (085), due to disappear, even though the emergency number is 112. The account is not a fake, but sure it is a fail.
Also the Canarias’ Government was the first autonomy in Spain to have their own app to monitor emergencies, capable of making the reserve 112 a reality attending calls in many European languages. Despite the fact that all ways to communicate an emergency are legitimate, the question I’d like to address here is whether they represent an improvement or a drawback.
Let’s try to clarify the scenario where we move. In Spain there are 17 Autonomies plus two independent cities (Ceuta and Melilla). Each of them has a 112 PSAP and, as I say, the emergency number here is the same for all Europe: 112. Besides Canarias, Catalonia also has its own emergency app, gencat, and Madrid (the capital city) is already working in one.
On the other hand, there are intuitions, like the European Emergecy Number Association, EENA, and projects funded by the European Commission, like Alert4All, which is at the last mile of a public alert system proof-of-concept implementation and will conclude in October 15 with the demonstration of its most remarkable features in an operational context, working very hard to have a common protocol capable of communicating an emergency everywhere in Europe, not to mention the Community Mechanism for Civil Protection , whose main role is to facilitate co-operation in civil protection assistance interventions in the event of major emergencies which may require urgent response actions anywhere inside or outside the European Union.
If we have the tools and are capable of working so well when countries are put together in an international disaster, to me it is a bit difficult to understand why we don’t unify apps, numbers and procedures. Sure Spain is not the only one to have this scenario but a sample.
If the objective is to make things simpler for the affected citizens, the stakeholders and the emergency services. Shouldn't we all go in the same direction?