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What is Austria’s new disaster warning system and how does it work?

Austria's new smartphone disaster warning system is ready to be implemented after a governmental assessment period. Here's how it works and when it might be used.

A person on their mobile phone
People in Austria are being warned to watch for scam messages. Photo by Pixabay /Pexels

Following severe storms in Austria during the summer months, the Austrian Federal Government has announced a new smartphone disaster warning system will be implemented in the coming months.

The AT-Alert system will involve push notifications sent to smartphones to warn people of disasters like storms, chemical accidents or terrorist attacks, reports ORF.

It is expected to be rolled-out in the first quarter of 2023 in coordination with mobile phone companies, the nine federal state warning centres and the Ministry of the Interior.

READ MORE: The smartphone apps that make living in Austria easier

Secretary of State for Digitization Florian Tursky (ÖVP) said: “Almost 90 percent of all Austrians own a smartphone – our daily companion.

“It is obvious that we should get warnings about this in everyday life. The last few months in particular have shown how important and necessary it is to provide people with quick and simple information.” 

AT-Alert will be used in addition to the existing siren alarm in Austria to become the country’s public warning system. It will operate in a similar way to the EU-Alert, the bloc’s public warning system that uses cell broadcast technology, also known as push notifications.

The technology enables disaster alerts to be sent to multiple mobile phones at the same time.

FOR MEMBERS: What is Austria’s official emergency-warning phone app and do I need it?

What other disaster warning systems does Austria have?

The Ministry of the Interior already has a smartphone app called KATWARN, which can warn of potential emergencies and disasters. But only for people that have downloaded the app.

KATWARN is a system that displays information and warnings from various authorities based on location or topic to smartphones, the Ministry of Interior says.

The app complements the existing warning options such as sirens, loudspeakers and media broadcasts. The advantage is that it can immediately warn people of any significant events, informing them of the danger and, just as important, giving immediate information on how to behave.

READ ALSO: Ten essential apps to download for living in Vienna

According to the Bundesministerium Inneres, some of the examples given for when KATWARN is used include police emergencies, natural disasters and extreme weather hazards and any major events or industrial accidents.

Additionally, the app may be used for call outs to the public, for example, with information on missing persons.

You can download the app by accessing your app store and searching for “KATWARN Österreich/Austria”. Here is the link for Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store.

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TECH

The apps and discounts to help you save money when eating out in Vienna

Eating out at a restaurant in Austria's capital city Vienna is becoming increasingly expensive but there are ways to save money and make it more affordable explains David Everson-Baltas.

The apps and discounts to help you save money when eating out in Vienna

It’s a sad truth that food prices have soared in recent years, and they show no signs of returning to what they once were.

If you’ve found your budget shrinking as I have, you may also have decided to cut down on dining out quite as often; indeed, you’ve probably blown the dust off those budget-friendly home-cooking recipes you’ve been neglecting all these years. But did you know there are huge discounts and offers to be had at restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores all over Vienna? And the best part? All you need to take advantage of these savings is your phone.

TheFork

Firstly, I want to introduce you to TheFork. TheFork (previously Delinski in Austria) is a popular online restaurant reservation platform that helps people discover and book dining experiences at restaurants. But what will really pique your interest is that a significant proportion of the restaurants on the platform offer discounts of up to 50 percent off the bill – and that, somewhat astonishingly, includes drinks. 

If you’re thinking this all sounds too good to be true, you’ll be reassured to know that the TripAdvisor-owned platform, with its user-friendly app, has an active community of 20 million monthly users, and with over 55,000 participating restaurants across 12 countries, your choice of eateries is by no means limited. 

READ ALSO: The best and worst Austrian foods (as voted on by you)

Amid the excitement of seeing your bill slashed in half, it’s worth remembering that it is considered good etiquette to offer a tip based on the full price of the meal before the discount.

To find out more about the restaurants and offers available to you, download the app or visit the website.

Sausages are one of the staple foods in Austria

Sausages are one of the staple foods in Austria (Photo by Krzysztof Kowalik on Unsplash)

Too Good to go 

In this day and age, enjoying fine dining experiences at up to half price seems too good to be true, but there are also ways of saving money on food that come with the added bonus of benefitting the planet and environment.

Founded in 2015, Too Good To Go is a mobile app that links customers to restaurants and stores with surplus, unsold food. It currently operates in most major European cities (including Vienna) and has now expanded to North America. With needlessly discarded food being responsible for 10 percent of greenhouse gases and over 2.8 billion tonnes of waste each year, this app offers you the chance to join the efforts in reducing it.

After downloading the app, you can scroll through pages of restaurants, bakeries and grocery stores to see what is on offer. Each establishment generally offers what’s called a “surprise bag” (Überraschungssackerl) in which you’ll find a variety of items that have gone unsold or are nearing their ‘display until’ date. Aside from the thrill of receiving a surprise bag (admit it, it’s exciting), you’ll also enjoy the added benefit of discounts as high as 70 percent on your food purchases, all while doing your bit to save the planet.

Like TheFork, Too Good To Go has become a mainstream, international app used by over 13 million people. The amount of actively participating businesses on the platform is fast approaching 27,000, and to date, users and businesses are collectively responsible for saving over 30 million surprise bags from going to waste.

Bread rolls

A selection of bread rolls. Photo: Manfred Richter from Pixabay

Restaurantwoche

If the apps we’ve mentioned don’t quite tempt you, you’ll be pleased to know there are yet more discounts being offered, this time through Vienna’s annual Restaurant Week (Die Restaurantwoche).

Restaurant Week, organised by Culinarius and involving some of the country’s most highly rated restaurants, typically takes place in September and March each year, and offers diners the chance to visit award-winning restaurants for a fraction of the price they would normally have to pay. 

READ ALSO: How did the Wiener Schnitzel become an Austrian icon?

The meals are set menus of between two and four courses put together by the chef/owner, and depending on what time of day and which establishment you decide to visit, prices range from €19.50 to €69.50 per person.

Having visited countless restaurants over the years during Restaurant Week, I’ve noticed that it’s not unusual to find that the meals on offer work out at roughly half their regular price, providing diners with the opportunity to affordably savour the menu’s standout dishes. 

A restaurant in Austria

Photo by Ivusko / Pixabay

If you would like to know more about Restaurant Week, how it works, and which restaurants partook in the scheme this year, head over to their website, and if you want 48-hour early access to booking next year, don’t forget to sign up for their newsletter; as a seasoned Restaurant Week veteran, I can attest to the fact that tables book up quickly.

At a time when every penny counts, finding ways to enjoy special dining experiences without breaking the bank is a welcome relief. Vienna, with its rich culinary heritage, offers a treasure trove of options for savvy diners.

Whether you’re exploring TheFork for exceptional discounts at renowned restaurants, indulging in the culinary wonders of Vienna’s Restaurant Week, or joining the sustainable food movement with Too Good To Go, you can now savour the flavours of this vibrant city at low cost, with just a tap of your phone.

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