New alert system goes live
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The UK Government has launched a new Emergency Alerts system, designed to bolster the nation's resilience by providing the capability to send direct alerts to mobile phones in the event of a risk to life.
The system, which works with mobile broadcasting technology, has already undergone successful testing in East Suffolk and Reading and will now be tested on a national level. The UK-wide test will take place on Sunday, 23 April, during which people will receive a test message on their mobile phones.
The Emergency Alerts system, which is already in use in countries such as the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan, has been widely credited with saving lives during severe weather events. The UK system will provide a means of getting urgent messages quickly to nearly 90 percent of mobile phones in a defined area, offering clear instructions on how best to respond.
The service will be used very rarely and only when there is an immediate risk to people's lives. Alerts will only ever come from the Government or emergency services and will issue a warning, always including the details of the area impacted and instructions on how to respond. The system will initially focus on severe weather-related incidents, including severe flooding in England.
Announcing the launch of the new alerts system, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden MP, said:
"We are strengthening our national resilience with a new emergency alerts system, to deal with a wide range of threats - from flooding to wildfires. It will revolutionize our ability to warn and inform people who are in immediate danger and help us keep people safe."
Emergency Alerts will be used across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the Government has been working closely with stakeholders and partners across the UK to develop the system, including colleagues from the emergency services, transport groups and the Environment Agency.
Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, Mark Hardingham, said:
"Together with every fire and rescue service in the country, I'm looking forward to having Emergency Alerts available to help us do our jobs and to help communities in the event of emergencies."
The Executive Director for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management at the Environment Agency, Caroline Douglass, added:
"Being able to communicate warnings in a timely and accurate manner during incidents is really important to help people take action to protect themselves, their families, and their neighbors. Emergency Alerts is a fantastic addition to our toolbox that we can use in emergency situations."
By broadcasting from cell towers in the vicinity of an emergency, the alerts are secure, free to receive, and one-way. They do not reveal anyone's location or collect personal data.
For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/alerts.
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