Test alarm: Why sirens are wailing again in North Rhine-Westphalia on Thursday

Test alarm: Why sirens are wailing again in North Rhine-Westphalia on Thursday

After Germany’s nationwide warning day last year saw a bumpy rollout with a number of technical glitches and hitches, the sirens were put to the test once again in North Rhine-Westphalia on Thursday morning. If you’re wondering what all of the wailing was about - don’t panic, it was just a test. 

North Rhine-Westphalia tests out warning system again

In order to test out the local warning system, find gaps in the network and defects, and prepare the public for what to do in the event of a real emergency, the most populous federal state in Germany carried out another test of its alarm system on Thursday, March 11. 

Many residents were likely shocked out of their skins when the alarms first sounded at 11 am sharp. The test included 81 sirens in Düsseldorf and a further 64 in Bonn, among others, and consisted of an uninterrupted wailing tone, lasting for one minute, followed by a long, rising and falling alarm - the signal for danger - and then the long, constant tone once again - the signal for “all clear”. The test also included the warning app NINA (the federal emergency information and news app). 

Last year’s nationwide warning day marred with glitches

During the national warning day which took place last September, a number of issues were encountered with the sending of nationwide emergency push notifications. The system was supposed to send out warning messages to public broadcasters, news agencies, infrastructure companies and smartphones via so-called “warning apps”, but the nationwide push appeared to overload the system - prompting widespread criticism and mockery. 

The alarm test is scheduled to take place twice a year in North Rhine-Westphalia from now on, on the second Thursdays of March and September. 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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