The Bavarian town of Mering is named one of 365 towns in the “Land of Ideas” in honor of its early warning system using e*Warn sirens.
6/2010. For over a year, the storm early-warning system SAFE has been in place to warn citizens and rescue teams in Mering. On June 26, the Bavarian market town was officially honored as the city of the day as part of the German government’s "Land of Ideas" campaign. SAFE is a project by the Fraunhofer Institute for Software and Systems Engineering (ISST). Fraunhofer ISST’s partner for the transmission of the warning messages is the network operator e*Message.
On May 26, 2009, when a low-pressure system swept storms across southern
Germany at speeds of over 120 km/h, the inhabitants of Mering had been
warned well in advance and taken refuge. A prototype of the SAFE system,
a sensor/actuator-based early-warning system against storm danger, had
been installed in Mering under the direction of the Fraunhofer ISST and
in cooperation with the paging network operator e*Message. Exactly 13
months later, on June 26, 2010, the town was honored for its innovative
project under the auspices of the German government’s Land of Ideas
SAFE involves a dense network of sensors that measure meteorological
developments, deployed like a protective shield all around the town. The
data from those sensors is combined with national weather information,
including satellite observations, to calculate precise forecasts and
trigger defensive procedures. In addition to the notification of
specific inhabitants and rescue teams, the system can also close windows
and operate locks on waterways automatically.
Pioneering Technology Has Important Potential Applications
“Mere awareness of danger is not protection,” says Ulrich Meissen,
leader of the SAFE project. “The special advantage of SAFE is that the
system not only detects danger, but also initiates specific action.” It
does so using a variety of warning channels, in keeping with the
different needs and situations of the inhabitants. For example, set-top
boxes allow warnings to be superimposed on television programs. e*Warn
sirens alert the appropriate people at night in residential buildings
and in the daytime in schools, child care facilities, industrial plants
and government offices. These storm warnings are transmitted over
e*Message’s satellite-based paging network.
In addition to storm warnings, the components of the system can also be
used for improved warnings in case of disasters such as floods and major
accidents. Fraunhofer ISST has been testing these capabilities since
August 2009 in another project in the Aurich district. e*Warn sirens
with geocoordinate localization are being used in that field test as
well. The advantage of e*Warn sirens is that they alert selected
inhabitants, with precision down to the street and house number, not
only during the day, but also at night, and regardless of power outages.
Because of these and other features, manufacturers of smoke alarms are
currently developing models with an integrated e*Warn-module by
The town of Mering and the SAFE project were selected from among more
than 2,200 applicants by the Land of Ideas jury as one of 365 towns
honored. The potential applications of the pioneering technology used in
SAFE are especially important in view of the weather extremes that
result from the present climate change.