Back in May of this year, the UK Government announced plans to launch a UK Emergency Alerts warning service. Ahead of introduction a series of public trials were to take place.
Following a successful test in East Suffolk on the 25th May 2021, the second test will take place in Reading on the 29th June 2021, 1-2pm.
People who receive the test alert in Reading will not need to do anything – it is just a test to ensure the effectiveness of the service. The alerts are free to receive, and one-way. They do not reveal location and do not collect any personal data.
Should the tests continue to prove successful the capability will be made available for use across the whole of the UK later this year.
Emergency Alerts are a public information service that the Government has developed to alert citizens to emergencies, both nation-wide and in their local area, that represent a severe threat to life and/or property.
They are text-based messages that will be broadcast from cell towers to people’s mobile devices, detailing the emergency and actions people need to take to ensure their safety. Emergency Alerts will be sent across all networks.
Emergency Alerts appear on your device’s home screen. You have to acknowledge them before you can use your device’s other features. They appear as a notification and may include telephone numbers or website links to further information.
A loud, distinct tone and vibration is usually associated with the message to raise awareness of the hazard or threat.
Stop what you’re doing and follow the instructions in the alert. Read the content carefully. An Emergency Alert is likely to include a link to gov.uk/alerts where further information is contained, and/or a helpline.
If you’re driving when you get an alert, find somewhere safe to stop before using your phone or tablet. It is illegal to use a hand-held device while driving, even when receiving an emergency alert.
You may get alerts about severe flooding, fires, explosions, terrorist incidents or public health emergencies. Emergency alerts will only be sent by the emergency services and/or government departments, agencies and public bodies that deal with emergencies.
For most people, the chance of receiving an alert will be low.
What you need to know
The emergency services and the UK government do not need your phone number to send you an alert. You will get alerts based on your current location – not where you live or work.
No one will collect or share data about you, your device or your location when you receive an alert. No personal information (such as telephone number, identity or location) is used in the sending of any Emergency Alert.
Emergency alerts are free and you do not need to sign up for them or download an app. You can opt out of some emergency alerts, but you should keep them switched on for your own safety.
Phone handsets and devices
Make sure your device has all the latest software updates. Emergency alerts work on iPhones running iOS 14.5 or later and Android phones and tablets running Android 11 or later.
Factors which might mean you will not receive an alert
There are some factors which might mean you will not receive an alert. These include:
A device needs to be on 4G or 5G to receive the alert. To note, a device that is normally on 4G or 5G can often connect to a 3G or a 2G signal inside buildings.
The device does not have the latest software update or the software update has not been released (older devices have a slower update cycle).
The device is not able to receive the alerts as it is no longer supported.
The device is not a 4G-enabled device.
The device was switched off. Although if you are in proximity to a cellular tower when the alert is broadcast, you will receive the alert when your phone is switched back on.
The device was not connected to a mast broadcasting the Emergency Alert.
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