A UK-wide test of the life-saving public Emergency Alerts system will take place at 3pm on Sunday 23rd April.
Following successful pilots in East Suffolk and Reading, the test of the new Emergency Alerts system will see people receive a message on the home screen of their mobile phone, along with a sound and vibration for up to ten seconds.
For the test, the public does not need to take any action – the sound and vibration will stop automatically after ten seconds. All people need to do is swipe away the message or click ‘OK’ on their phone’s home screen – just like for a ‘low battery’ warning or notification – and continue to use their phone as normal.
Emergency Alerts have already been used successfully in a number of other countries, including the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan, where it has been widely credited with saving lives, for example, during severe weather events. In the UK, alerts could be used to tell residents of villages being encroached by wildfires, or of severe flooding.
The Government has worked together with the emergency services and partners, including the Football Association and London Marathon, to make sure the national test has minimum impact on major events taking place on the day.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden MP, said:
Put the date in your diaries – at 3pm on 23 April, we’ll be testing our new national Emergency Alerts system.
Getting this system operational with the national test means we have another tool in our toolkit to keep the public safe in life-threatening emergencies. It could be the sound that saves your life.
Chair of The National Fire Chiefs Council, Mark Hardingham, said:
We must use every tool at our disposal to keep people safe, and we need everyone to play their part – and the new Emergency Alerts system is one way we can do this. For 10 seconds, the national test may be inconvenient for some, but please forgive us for the intrusion, because the next time you hear it – your life, and the life-saving actions of our emergency services, could depend on it.
National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Civil Contingencies, Assistant Chief Constable Owen Weatherill said:
Warning and informing the public at speed during times of crises can be vital. We look forward to further developing the use of the Emergency Alerts capability and how it can have real benefits for the public to protect and preserve life, as well as supporting policing’s wider response to critical incidents with partner agencies. Alongside partners, we will continue to listen carefully to public feedback and ensure the use of Emergency Alerts has a positive impact.
Emergency Alerts will transform the UK’s warning and informing capability; by working with mobile broadcasting technology it will provide a means to get urgent messages quickly to nearly 90 percent of mobile phones in a defined area when there is a risk to life, and provide clear instructions about how best to respond.
Best practice of Emergency Alerts in other countries have shown that they work more effectively in a real emergency if people have previously received a test, so they know what an alert looks and sounds like.
The system will be used very rarely – only being sent where there is an immediate risk to people’s lives – so people may not receive an alert for months or years.
- You can find out further information on Emergency Alerts, including what they look and sound like at gov.uk/alerts