The UK is testing a new emergency alert system that will sound an alert on all phones across the country on April 23. The new government emergency alert service is designed to warn citizens if their lives are in danger. The alert will sound in case of events like severe flood, fire or terrorist attack.
The UK has conducted regional tests of the service over the past year, but is now planning a national test on April 23. All compatible phones will beep for ten seconds and display a warning message until the user stops it. The alarm will sound even if the phone is in silent mode.
The government posted a video showing the sound of the alarm on YouTube, hoping to prevent people from being caught off guard on test day.
The experimental alert, which will apparently be triggered on the evening of April 23, could disrupt public places such as theatres, cinemas and stadiums, where hundreds or thousands of cell phones could trigger the alert simultaneously.
Emergency Alert is compatible with all phones running iOS 14.5 or later, or Android 11 or later. Tablets with access to cellular networks will also receive alerts.
When it goes live, alerts will be sent to everyone in the affected area, based on their geographic location. Alerts will be sent to all devices within range of cellular antennas in affected areas. Users will not need to consent and location services will not need to be enabled to receive alerts.
The government insists that the alert service is safe and that only ministries and emergency services have the ability to send alerts. The website lists past alerts, so citizens can check if they think they have been the target of a false alert.
Test Alert and Realtime Alerts will be sent to all devices, including devices whose owner is driving.
The UK government warns that drivers “should not read or respond to an emergency alert while driving”.
The government adds: “If you are driving, you should continue driving and not respond to noise or try to pick up the mobile phone to answer the message.”
“Find a safe and legal place to stop before reading the message. If there is no safe place to stop nearby, and there is no one else in the car to read the alert, listen to live radio and wait for reports until you can find a safe and legal place to stop.”
Disable emergency alerts
There is a way to turn off emergency alerts on your phone, if only temporarily, if you don’t want to be disturbed on the evening of April 23rd.
If you’re in the UK and want to turn off alerts, go to the Settings app on your phone and search for Emergency Alerts. You should find options there to turn off emergency alerts.
Translated article from the American magazine Forbes – Author: Barry Collins
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