New public emergency alerts to be sent directly to mobile phones – UK wide test Sunday 23 April

Written by Bobby Kelly

March 19, 2023

  • UK-wide Emergency Alerts service launched and in operation from today.
  • Provides the capability to the government and emergency services to send alerts direct to mobile phones when there is ‘a risk to life’.
  • UK-wide test to take place on Sunday 23 April.

Working with mobile broadcasting technology, the Emergency Alerts system will radicly transform the UK’s warning and informing capability; providing a means to get urgent messages quickly to nearly 90 percent of mobile phones in a defined area.

A UK-wide alerts test will take place in the early evening of Sunday 23 April which will see people receive a test message on their mobile phones.

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 where people can receive further information.

Emergency Alerts 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 even years.

The service has already been used in a number of other countries, including the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan. 

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 to do our jobs and to help communities in the event of emergencies.

We’ve seen this type of system in action elsewhere across the world and we look forward to having the facility here in the UK – by working together with fire services and partners we want this system to help us to help you be as safe as you can if a crisis does hit.”

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.   Alerts can only be sent by authorised Governmental and Emergency Services users. Successful live tests of the service have already taken place in East Suffolk and Reading.

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