Emergency ‘siren-like’ alerts to be sent to every mobile phone in Government test

Emergency ‘siren-like’ alerts to be sent to every mobile phone in Government test

The UK government is set to send “Armageddon alerts” to the mobile phones of Britons to warn of potential disasters. The first nationwide alert is due to be sent on St George’s Day, April 23, when people in all four nations of the UK will receive the emergency siren.

The system, which is modelled after similar schemes in the US, Canada, Netherlands and Japan, is intended to be used in life-threatening situations, including flooding and wildfires.

According to the Cabinet Office, the alerts will appear on the home screens of people’s phones, accompanied by a loud warning sound and vibration for up to 10 seconds.

Phone users will be unable to use other features on their devices unless they acknowledge the alert. Initially, the scheme will focus on the most serious severe weather-related events, with the ability to get a message to 90 percent of mobile users within the relevant area in an emergency.

People who do not wish to receive the alerts will be able to opt out in their device settings, but officials hope the life-saving potential of the messages means users will keep them on.

The alerts will only ever come from the Government or emergency services and they will include the details of the area affected and provide instructions about how best to respond.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden, said the new emergency alerts system is intended to deal with a wide range of threats, from flooding to wildfires, and will revolutionise the UK’s ability to warn and inform people who are in immediate danger.

Dowden also acknowledged that the buzz of a phone can save a life, as has been seen in the US and elsewhere.

Emergency alerts will work on all 4G and 5G phone networks widely used by smartphones, according to the Government. However, older non-smartphones are not included.

The 3G technology they use is being switched off next year. The Government maintains that anyone without a compatible device will still be informed about an emergency, with the emergency services having other ways to warn of threats to life.

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