20 April 2023 | Chameleon Updates

The New Emergency Alerts System: Preparing for a nuclear threat or something else?

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On Sunday 23rd April 2023, the new Emergency Alerts system is going to be tested by the government across the UK.

The Emergency Alerts system has been created by the UK Government, following examples from other countries, eg. Japan and the United States, to alert the public when life-threatening events are taking place and give instructions for people to keep safe.

What will the alert say?

The test for the new Emergency Alerts system will occur at 3pm on Sunday 23rd April. A message will pop up on the screen of phones and tablets, with a loud sound, similar to a siren, or a vibration for around 10 seconds.

The alert will state that it is a test and that no action needs to be taken after receiving the alert. As in real-life scenarios, there will be instructions given in order to help people keep safe when there are life-threatening events happening nearby. 

When the Emergency Alerts test message is received, people will simply swipe the alert away and carry on with using their devices.

Who will receive the Emergency Alerts?

The new Emergency Alert system will be sent to all compatible devices that are on 4G and 5G networks in the UK.

These compatible devices include iPhones with iOS 14.5 and later, as well as phones and tablets with Android 11 and later. Any other devices will be unable to receive the alerts.

If you are on a 2G or 3G network, or have your phone on aeroplane mode, you will also be unable to receive the alerts.

Can I opt out of the Emergency Alerts system?

Simple answer, yes. Go into settings, search for ‘emergency alerts’ and you’ll be able to switch off ‘extreme alerts’ and ‘severe alerts’. 

However, the government is advising that people keep the alerts on, to ensure you’re aware when emergency situations occur in the future. 

It’s important to note that the alert will still make a noise if your device is set on silent. For those who are victims of domestic abuse, ensure you are aware of this and switch off these settings on any hidden phones or devices you may have.

Additionally, drivers are being advised to make sure they don’t use their phone while driving.  

When will the Emergency Alerts system be used?

The UK Government has developed this Emergency Alerts system to be used for life-threatening occasions. Emergency Alerts will either be sent out by the government or the emergency services, and people can be alerted locally or nationally.

Events that could mean people receive an alert are most likely to be severe weather incidents. Such as fires, flooding or any extreme weather conditions where there is a threat to life. There will be plenty of people who don’t receive an alert for many months or years.

This Emergency Alerts system has not been designed for incidents where there is a terrorist on the streets, as there’s the possibility of the alert giving away people’s location. 

Although, the system could be used for a wider range of events, for example, to warn people to leave an area where there is a car bomb, threats of nuclear attack and high-risk criminals at large.

Is my data protected?

The Cabinet Office has stated that there will be no personal data collected about the user, the device or the location. 

The alert is broadcasted to mobile-phone masts to all the compatible devices within range. This means that the Emergency Alerts system doesn’t need phone numbers or any specific data to send out any alerts.

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