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The NINA warning app warned of floods in Germany, but unfortunately too few people had the app installed before the floods

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Why was the German population not given sufficient flood warning using the NINA warning app?

Even a week after the catastrophic flood, the criticism of the nationwide alarm system continues. Because: The Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief (BBK) relies on its warning app NINA for internet-enabled smartphones as a central element. The NINA warning app has a lot of advantages of the warning app over warning SMS.

What is the NINA warning app?

With the federal emergency information and news app , or NINA warning app for short , you receive important civil protection warnings for various hazard situations such as the spread of hazardous substances or a major fire. Weather warnings from the German Weather Service and flood information from the responsible authorities in the federal states are also integrated into the warning app.

How does the NINA warning app work?

With NINA you receive:

  • Warning messages from civil protection with recommendations for action
  • Weather warnings from the DWD (Germany-wide for all districts and cities)
  • Flood information (Germany-wide at state level) 
  • General emergency tips so that you can protect yourself and others from possible dangers.

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Facts about the NINA warning app

  • Only about 8.8 million people in Germany have downloaded this warning app
  • It takes 30 seconds to send a warning message through the NINA system
  • The warning messages cover topics such as floods, storms, power outages, fires and special danger situations. 

What does the NINA in the warning app stand for?

NINA stands for Notfall-Informations- und Nachrichten-App

The problem with the NINA system and the NINA warning app

Far too few people even know this warning app. To date, NINA has around nine million downloads – so far, at best, a tenth of the population has been informed about floods, storms or terrorist attacks in this way. 

nina warning app

In order to make more citizens aware of NINA, the BBK produced an advertising film. The childish title: “Monster Alarm!” The banal storyline: A cartoon Godzilla attacks a big city, but finds no people in the houses because they were all warned in time by NINA. But obviously the monster comic encouraged too few citizens to download the app.

How to set up the NINA warning app

If you can download Tiktok, I#m sure you will not find working with the NINA warning app complicated. We installed the app so that we can show you how simple the process is:

Why the NINA warning app would have been of help in preparing people to the eventual damage the floods caused in Germany

The NINA warning app includes data from so-called “MoWaS“, i.e. modular warning systems, provides very precise information.

Apart from providing warnings, the app also provides detailed help on what to watch out for in the event of floods or the like and how best to prevent damage. Thus, the smart app can help you in advance to protect yourself from worse accidents and high costs.

If you have activated the location services on your device, “NINA” provides you with precise information for your current area. Additionally or alternatively, you can subscribe to locations about which you want to be informed. For a better overview, the individual locations can be sorted and arranged as required. So that you are not bothered with double warnings, the current location connects to the subscribed locations, provided that they match.

NINA offers symbols for the individual hazard categories (e.g. floods, thunderstorms, ordnance found or major fire) and color gradations that visualize the hazard. But NINA can do even more. The “Advice” category provides extensive information on how to behave in an emergency or what supplies you should have in the house.

Alternatives to the NINA warning app in Germany that should have helped with the floods

1. Regional warning app KATWARN

The regional app KATWARN was developed by the Fraunhofer Institute and forwards official warnings and recommendations for action to the smartphone.

KATWARN also has an interface to the MoWaS system. All messages that are sent in NINA are also published in KATWARN.

The user can choose between location-based and topic-based. Up to seven favorite locations can be selected. KATWARN then sends the hazard report and behavior to the current location.

North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, used KATWARN to inform citizens about the Corona Protection Ordinance. BUT: Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia do NOT receive any national hazard reports!

Only KATWARN offers topic-based messages . Anyone who spends a lot of time at music festivals will receive information directly on their mobile phone if the security situation is appropriate, for example when there is a crowd in front of the festival site or when the fair is already overcrowded.

If you don’t have a smartphone, you can alternatively receive a warning SMS or email for a specific postcode, for example 12345. Simply send the SMS “KATWARN 12345” to the service number: 0163 755 88 42.

DISADVANTAGE: The SMS / e-mail service does not offer any severe weather warnings from the German weather service DWD. This service is also not available for warning areas that are supplied by other warning systems (NINA app). Which areas are covered, is on the side of the provider .

2. BIWAPP

BIWAPP (Bürger Info- & Warn-App) is a free smartphone app for warning and informing the population. Current information and disaster reports for your selected locations and the selected area directly on your smartphone – with additional push notification if you wish.

You can individually determine which topics you would like to be actively informed about (e.g. school dropouts, traffic accidents, fire, floods, bomb disposal, general warnings, etc.).

In addition to weather-related warnings such as floods, there are also warnings about traffic accidents, fires, bomb disposal and school dropouts. In addition, the app is not only supplied with information by the participating municipalities, but also receives data from the German weather service and the NINA database.

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