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Emergency Alert System Launches to Provide Urgent Messages to UK Mobile Phones

The UK has launched a new system that will provide the government and emergency services with the capability to send alerts directly to mobile phones when there is a risk to life. The Emergency Alerts service will transform the UK’s warning and informing capability, providing a means to get urgent messages quickly to nearly 90% of mobile phones in a defined area, and providing clear instructions about how best to respond.

Following successful tests in East Suffolk and Reading, the system is now ready to be tested across the country, and a UK-wide test will take place on Sunday 23 April. 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.

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 successfully in other countries, including the US, Canada, the Netherlands, and Japan, where it has been widely credited with saving lives during severe weather events.

The system will be used across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, with its initial use focusing on the most serious severe weather-related incidents, including severe flooding in England. The government has been working closely with a range of stakeholders and partners across the UK on developing the system, including colleagues from the emergency services, transport groups, and the Environment Agency.

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, and the launch of the system will bolster the UK’s resilience and provide a vital life-saving tool in times of emergency.

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