UK: Emergency alert systems will be made available to mobile phone users
The British government said on Sunday that a test of a new public warning system for life-threatening situations like severe weather will send a siren-like alarm to mobile phone users across the UK next month.
On Sunday, April 23, early in the evening, a test of UK-wide warnings will occur. People's mobile phones will be sent a test message.
According to the government, the new Emergency Alerts will only be given in extreme cases when there is an urgent threat to people's lives. As a result, it's possible that individuals won't get an alert for months or even years.
Terrorist alerts may eventually be added to the list of possible events that might cause a notice, despite the fact that they are not now covered.
In order to cope with a variety of dangers, from floods to wildfires, "we are boosting our national resilience with a new emergency alerts system," stated Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden.
"It will completely change how we can alert and notify those who are in imminent danger, allowing us to keep people safe. The buzz of a phone may save a life, as we've seen in the US and abroad, he added.
The Emergency Alerts system, according to the Cabinet Office, will revolutionise the UK's warning and informing capabilities by using mobile broadcasting technology to instantly deliver important messages to over 90% of mobile phones in a specific region and provide clear instructions on how to react.
After successful trials in East Suffolk and Reading as part of a strategy to combat threats that are "ever-evolving," the deployment has been expanded to the whole UK.
The UK Cabinet Office stated that the alerts "will only ever come from the government or emergency services, and they will issue a warning, always include the details of the area impacted, and provide instructions about how best to respond - linking to gov.uk/alerts where people can receive further information.
The programme has already been used in a number of other nations, such as the US, Canada, the Netherlands, and Japan, where it has received widespread praise for, among other things, saving lives during extreme weather events.
According to Mark Hardingham, chair of the UK's National Fire Chiefs Council, "I'm looking forward to having Emergency Alerts accessible to allow us to perform our jobs and to support communities in the case of crises" along with every fire and rescue service in the nation.
"We've seen this kind of system in operation elsewhere across the globe, and we look forward to having the facility here in the UK," he added. "Through working together with fire services and partners, we want this system to allow us to help you be as safe as you can if a crisis does occur.
The warnings are said to be "safe, free to receive, and one-way" and are broadcast from cell towers close to an emergency. They don't track users' whereabouts or gather personal information, and only authorised government and emergency service users are allowed to send alerts, according to the government.
To help people take action to protect themselves, their families, and their neighbours, it is crucial to be able to communicate warnings in a timely and accurate manner during incidents, according to Caroline Douglass, executive director for flood and coastal erosion risk management at the Environment Agency.
"Emergency Alerts is a terrific addition to our toolkit that we can employ in emergency scenarios," she added.
The most significant severe weather-related catastrophes, such as catastrophic flooding in England, will be the first focus of the deployment of emergency alerts in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The emergency services, transportation organisations, and the Environment Agency, among other partners and stakeholders, have all been actively involved in the system's development, according to the British government.