Some people will be receiving an emergency alert system test on May 25 (Picture: Getty)
Today, the UK government will trial an emergency alert system (ESA) that will send a loud alert to select mobile numbers.
Many places across the world already have such a system in place, but the UK has never had one.
But what exactly is an emergency alert system, and how will it be used in the UK?
What is an emergency alert system?
Many places across the world use an emergency alert system (Picture: Getty)
An ESA is a public warning system that allows the government to address people quickly during a national emergency.
They are powered by cell broadcasting technology, targeting mobile numbers of people who live in the area where the emergency is happening.
This technology allows the government to send an alert to any device within 10 seconds, sharing information to people in specific locations that will help guide them during an emergency.
No personal details, such as phone numbers, are shared, and using an ESA puts less stress on phone networks in moments of crisis, ensuring that the right people receive these important warnings.
Why is the UK using an emergency alert system now?
Emergency system alarms use cell broadcasting technology to send out information (Picture: Getty)
The decision to introduce an ESA into the UK is a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the first months of the crisis, the government had to enlist the support of the four major mobile networks (EE, Three, O2, and Vodafone) to send text messages out asking people to stay at home as the first lockdown plans were rolled out.
The new system will make national and targeted local announcements easier to send and will take away the onus from individual phone networks.
‘The Emergency Alerts service will be a vital tool in helping us to better respond to emergencies, both nationally and locally,’ said Penny Mourdant, the Paymaster General.
‘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.’
When will the emergency alert system be used?
The government plans on launching the emergency alert system this summer (Picture: Getty)
Trials of the ESA will be rolled out ahead of the system’s official launch, on May 25.
Residents in East Suffolk will be the first to receive a text message.
A second test will be taking place in Reading on June 15.
You do not need to reply to the message if you receive it.
There will be a public information campaign before the national launch to ensure more people are aware of the system and how it works.
It will then be used to share any alerts concerning national and localised emergencies as they occur, such as any changes in local lockdown rules.
The launch is set to occur summer 2021, but no official date has been announced.
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