If your iPhone or Android device suddenly starts belting out a loud sound this lunchtime then don’t be alarmed. It’s all part of a trial that’s testing out a nationwide emergency warning system that will alert Britons when there is an imminent threat to life. The first test of this new siren was pushed out to some devices last week with a second alert being trialled between 1pm and 2pm today.
If you are included in the test you’ll hear the sound and receive a text which reads, “This is a mobile network operator test of the Emergency Alerts service. You do not need to take any action.”
Users are also being told to expect their devices to vibrate for around 10 seconds and the noise will belt out even if the device is switched to silent mode. They won’t work if the device is off or aeroplane mode is enabled.
It’s thought that today’s event will take place in parts of Reading, Berkshire with emergency alerts being broadcast from mobile phone masts so every compatible mobile phone or tablet in range will receive it.
The system, dubbed Emergency Alerts by the UK Government, was inspired by countries like New Zealand, which have used text messages to alert citizens for some time.
It’s hoped the alerts could be used to send messages about public health emergencies as well as industrial incidents and terror attacks.
The Cabinet Office provided more details about the alert system, saying it would send out warnings that outlined affected areas, advice on what to do and a link to any extra information.
If the tests are successful, the UK Government hopes to be able to issue text alerts to millions by “summer 2021”.
The Cabinet Office added that the system does not use people’s telephone numbers, instead sending alerts out to anyone in a specific area. The Government also revealed the alerts “do not reveal your location and do not collect any personal data. Alerts can also only be sent by authorised governmental and emergency services users”.
However, if users want to they will be able to opt-out of certain alerts via the Android or iOS settings, but the most important ones will always come through.
Published at Tue, 29 Jun 2021 10:24:00 +0000