UK tests new mobile phone alert system

UK tests new mobile phone alert system
Credit: UK Govt.

At 15:00 on Sunday, a siren-like alarm will sound on mobile phones in the UK as the government tests a new warning system to alert the public in emergency situations such as fires, floods or in cases of life-threatening danger.

The warning system is modelled on schemes already in place in the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan. It will allow messages to be sent to mobile phones to quickly warn the public of danger. The government assured that the device would be used only in exceptional circumstances.

“Wherever you are, this Sunday at 15:00 (16:00 CET) you will receive the emergency alert,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted. “You will receive a message on your mobile phone screen, accompanied by a sound and vibration for up to ten seconds. You will not have to take any action."

The 10-second alarm will sound even if the phones are on silent mode.

“Keep calm and carry on, this is just a test,” the government stressed in response to critics, using the famous British motto from World War II.

Right-wing newspaper the Daily Mail on Tuesday ran with the headline: “What genius thought it was a good idea to terrify the whole country at 3pm on Sunday?”.

Motorists have been warned not to pick up their phones during the test, and people who do not wish to receive the alerts can turn them off in their device settings.

London theatres will ask patrons to turn off their phones so the alarm does not sound in the middle of a performance. Similar messages are expected to be issued in cinemas.

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