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Polyalert – the system for alerting the public

About 7,200 sirens in Switzerland

Switzerland currently has approx. 5,000 stationary sirens for alerting the public by ‘general alarm’. Thanks to the introduction of new ‘combined sirens’ over the past years some 600 of them are also used for flood alarms. Apart from these stationary sirens, about 2,200 mobile sirens are in use. These mobile sirens are primarily used in sparsely populated areas or serve to replace defective stationary sirens.

Remote control of 5,000 sirens

All the stationary sirens in Switzerland, approx. 5,000, are linked to a uniform control system and can thus be controlled centrally, usually by the cantonal police, and initiated specifically. In collaboration with the cantons and other partners the Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOXP) developed and introduced the ‘Polyalert’ siren remote control system from 2009 to 2015.

Polyalert is based on highly reliable systems

The civil alarm system is based on federal and cantonal networks (Armed forces networks and Swiss secure radio network, Polycom). There are also alternative or redundant transmission vectors via ultra short wave radio/radio data system or with commercial mobile telephone networks. These systems and networks guarantee that the alarm can be sounded even if individual elements of the system fail to work.

Development of Polyalert

The operation of Polyalert is assured until 2025. The FOCP will continue to develop the system over the coming years: in addition to the existing alarm with sirens new media are to be used for communicating incidents such as cell phone and Internet. With Polyalert the basis has been established for a secure and polyvalent alerting and information platform.