Published on: Amended:
The start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 was marked by the sound of air raid sirens in cities across the country. As the war progressed, these sirens became indispensable for warning citizens so that they could take cover in the event of impending air attacks. But the air raid siren system isn’t foolproof, and sirens can only be heard if people are within earshot of the speakers. To address these concerns, an Israeli student has created an online system that shows the various air raid alerts across Ukraine.
When the Ukrainian army receives information about an impending air attack on a specific locality, it sends this information to the local authorities. The municipality then sounds the sirens on the loudspeakers and publishes the alert on its social media profiles.
But until now, there was no way to see all these alerts in one place.
Ukrainian siren alert [19/04/2022]
– Ukrainian Siren Alerts (@UkraineAlert) April 19, 2022
The system allows people outside Ukraine to get a better idea of what’s going on in the country, as well as to keep tabs on friends and family when communication is difficult.
“You can see and feel really connected to your family there”
Bernard Moerdler, a student in Israel, created the system to help his Ukrainian girlfriend track family members who are still in the country.
There really isn’t a convincing way to alert people to sirens inside or outside Ukraine. The current system is area specific and locked by location. So if you have family members there but you’re not physically there, you won’t really be able to see if the sirens are sounding.
After living in Israel for a while, I have come to appreciate the system we have here, which is Red alert. You can see multiple locations, a map and a lot more information. So I decided to go ahead and try to do something similar.
It’s reassuring to be able to know exactly what’s going on when it happens because you’re able to see and feel really connected to your family there and the people you know.
“I started the project because I want to help people”
Moerdler used his background in programming and software development to create the program from scratch. He hopes to expand the system to add features such as location-specific SMS alerts and a website.
The notification system also serves those inside Ukraine. When physical alert systems fall short, automated notifications from Moerdler can be essential.
I heard from people in Ukraine, outside Ukraine. One of them who really impressed me is a guy called Chris who comes from kyiv. He told me he learned about it on Twitter and was using the service because the area he was in physically didn’t have any sirens.
So he used UASA because he always gave alerts for his area, despite the fact that there were no physical sirens and he could warn his friends and family.
And he told me that it helped and saved his family. And that’s just amazing to me. It’s my aim. I started the project because I want to help people.
Since the launch of the system, UASA has attracted nearly 10,000 followers on Twitter.