BRITS may hear a loud blast from their phones today at 1pm – as authorities test a new national emergency alarm.
A trial-run of the planned emergency system, designed to alert people to imminent danger through phones and tablets, is taking place across the UK this afternoon.
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The Government website says testing is taking place on some mobile phone networks but does not specify which customers could be affected.
It does say, however, that if you own an android device, there is a chance you will get a test alert and your phone or tablet could make a loud siren sound.
The Emergency Alerts service, being put together by the Government, is expected to launch fully later this summer.
Those who receive the alert will also be sent a message which says: "This is a mobile network operator test of the Emergency Alerts service. You do not need to take any action. To find out more, search for gov.uk/alerts."
Once the system is up and running it will send alerts to people in areas where there is a risk to life, such as during a flood or terror attack.
Alerts, which are broadcast from mobile phone masts, are designed to be activated if there is a danger to life nearby.
Phones or tablets within range will be able to pick up the warning, which may also come with written advice on how to stay safe.
When the service eventually goes live, households could receive emergency alerts about incidents such as severe flooding, a fire, a terrorist attack or public health emergencies, says the Government guide online.
New emergency alarm system trialled in UK
Under the plans, Brits will get alerts to their mobiles for emergency situations – including public health emergencies, severe floods, fires, industrial incidents and terror attacks.
It comes after text messages were sent out during the pandemic via mobile providers.
If the new system is put in place, cell broadcasting technology will be used to ensure alerts are "secure, free to receive, and one-way".
The system does not use people's phone numbers.
Instead, alerts are sent to anyone in a specific area from a mobile phone mast.
Every compatible phone and tablet in range will get the alert.
The Government is working with authorities around the UK to ensure all emergency services have access to the system.
Charity organisations will also be involved in the development of the system to make sure elderly, vulnerable and young people, as well as those with disabilities, are "fully considered".
It will be possible to opt-out of some alerts through the phone's settings.
However, the most important alerts will always come through, and the Government recommends that people do not opt-out.
Alerts will be sent only by emergency services, government departments and other public bodies responsible for co-ordinating emergency responses in the country.
Mobile phone numbers are not required by the Government in order to send out alerts to the public.
Emergency alert systems are used across the world.
The USA, Netherlands, Canada, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand all have such a system in place.
But until last month Britain had never trialled emergency phone alerts, with the Government doing another test run in East Suffolk.
During the early stages of the pandemic in Britain, the Government had to rely on mobile operators to send messages to customers.
In the future, it wants to be able to contact people with both national and local alerts.
Personal details including phone numbers don't need to be shared, and the tech means there's no extra strain on the phone network.
Paymaster General Penny Mourdant said it will help the UK respond more quickly to disaster situations.
"The Emergency Alerts service will be a vital tool in helping us to better respond to emergencies, both nationally and locally," she said.
“The concept was used to good effect during the pandemic when we asked people, via text message, to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
"This new system builds on that capability and will allow us to more quickly and effectively get life-saving messages to people across the UK.”
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