The UK Government is introducing Emergency alerts. Emergency Alerts are a public information service that the Government have developed to alert citizens to emergencies, both nationwide and in their local area, that represents a severe threat to life and/or property. The technology used allows a message to be broadcast to a defined area, meaning any device in or entering that area immediately receives the message, detailing the emergency and actions people need to take to ensure their safety.
Their purpose is to help save lives in emergency situations by issuing a warning and clear instructions about how best to respond. While the alert service will initially be used as part of the Government's coronavirus response capability, it could also serve a wider purpose and be used as an emergency response for other scenarios, such as severe flooding or terror attacks. Emergency Alerts are a way of warning people when lives are in danger.
Emergency alert FAQs
What do the messages look like?
Emergency alerts will appear as a notification on the home screen of your device. Before you can use your devices other features you will have to acknowledge the alert. The emergency alert message will include telephone numbers and/or website links containing further info. The alert will be accompanied by a loud siren-like sound and your device will vibrate, this is to raise awareness of the hazard or threat. If you receive an alert, please read the content carefully.
Are my privacy and security protected?
No personal information (such as telephone number, identity or location) is used in the sending of any Emergency Alert. [This has been validated by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) who can provide further information if required.] The technology used allows a message to be broadcast to a defined area, meaning any device in or entering that area immediately receives the message. Emergency alerts are therefore one-way and do not provide any feedback on the recipients’ location or whether they have received an alert. The recipients’ telephone numbers and specific locations are not required, known or used, and no personal information on recipients of Emergency Alerts is shared by the Mobile Network Operators and no personal information is gathered by the government or the Mobile Network Operators.
Will all the Mobile Networks provide Emergency Alerts?
Emergency Alerts will be sent across all networks.
Is there a charge to receive an Emergency Alert?
There are no charges to receive Emergency Alerts. Alerts are sent on a specific channel that is separate from normal text and data traffic. While the alerts may look like text messages, they are not and will not be charged to your bill like text messages.
Will Emergency Alerts work on all devices?
Emergency Alerts should be received on a majority of devices. However, there are some factors that might mean you will not receive an alert. These include:
What if my phone can’t receive Emergency Alerts?
Emergency Alerts are just one of many tools the Government has to communicate with the public about emergency situations. The service will be one source of information in the event of a life-threatening emergency. Existing procedures will still be in place, so those without a mobile will still be made aware through the news and local emergency services, for example. As part of the public information campaign, we are working closely with community leaders and stakeholders to ensure that those communities and people who are less likely to have a mobile will be able to access the information distributed through the alerts. We advise you to identify someone who lives near you who can inform you of any Emergency Alerts being sent.
Can I trust the phone numbers and website links in the messages?
All Emergency Alerts will include a phone number or a link to gov.uk/alerts where further information will be available. Emergency alerts can only be sent by emergency responders or the Government.
Will my iPad or 4G enabled tablet receive the messages?
4G or 5G enabled iPads do not support Emergency Alerts, so you will not be able to receive Emergency Alerts on an iPad device, but you will receive Alerts on a 4G or 5G enabled Apple Watch. Other 4G sim card-fitted tablet devices with the latest software should get alerts if they have the latest software update, as will Samsung watches.