Campaign to publicise phone siren test an 8.7 million kroner failure, conclude experts

Ben Hamilton
May 16th, 2023

Despite a more than generous budget, the public were not sufficiently informed they needed an updated device to receive the alert

Most phones needed to be fully updated to receive the siren (photo: pexels)

The campaign to publicise the new addition to the early May testing of the country’s emergency sirens – a cacophony of noise emitted by all Danish mobile phones – cost the Ministry of Defence 8.7 million kroner to orchestrate, according to official documents accessed by DR.

And it was not money well spent, contends experts, as the campaign to inform the public about S!RENEN failed to make it clear it would not be audible if most phone users did not have a fully updated operating system.

This explains why only 64 percent of the country’s mobile phone owners can confirm they got the alert siren via their devices, according to figures from DEMA, the emergency management agency responsible for informing the public.

Key piece of information was missing
Professor Jakob Stoustrup, an electronic systems expert at Aalborg University, cannot believe the failings of DEMA’s campaign given that 8.7 million kroner was spent on publicising S!RENEN.

“I have nothing nice to say about the fact that you should have a fully updated phone. It was a key piece of information that was missing from the communication,” he told DR.

But while it was made clear via sirenen.dk that “your Apple phone can safely receive alerts via S!RENEN, if it’s an iPhone 8 or later that’s updated to iOS 16.4 or later”, along with provisions for android phones, the information was not effectively conveyed in the media.

Absolute majority knew about the extra siren
Ahead of the test, most media outlets were more interested in the potentially harmful effect of the siren on vulnerable groups, such as former veterans. Many feared the siren could be triggering.

It was widely reported there was only one way the public could silence their phones: by switching them off. 

And it was certainly well publicised, as 98 percent of the public knew what was coming, according to a Megafon study.


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