The British government is setting up a new system to warn citizens in the event of an emergency through mobile phones. Mobile phones with 4G and 5G networks will be sent alerts in the event of extreme floods, wildfires, or any life-threatening event, such as terrorist attacks.
The first test of the nationwide public warning system will be sent on April 23rd, 2023, at 3 PM. The devices will give off a siren sound followed by a message on the user’s phone’s home screen and vibrations for up to ten seconds. Although tests have already been conducted in Suffolk and Reading, this is the first time the entire country will receive the alert. Users can bypass the alert by swiping away the message or clicking “OK” on their screen to continue using their phones.
The chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden, said, “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.”
This new system comes in place as the government faced heat during the pandemic for lagging behind other countries on the technology that could help Britain during a crisis. Countries such as the Netherlands, South Korea, the US, Canada, and Japan have used this technology which has been helpful during severe weather conditions.
During last summer’s heatwave, temperatures in England reached 40 C, and the fire services faced over fifty wildfires a day, four times the number in 2021. “We must use every tool at our disposal to keep people safe, and we need everyone to play their part. The national test may be inconvenient for some, but please forgive us for the intrusion,” said Mark Hardingham, National Fire Chiefs Council chair.
Mr. Oliver Dowden ensured that there would be no spamming from the government and that it may not be used for months. Following the test on April 23rd, the alerts will be sent only in an emergency event. Finally, the alerts will be targeted at the specific area where the emergency occurs and will also contain instructions on how to respond to the situation.
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