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Emergency Alert System

The UK Government is introducing Emergency alerts.  Emergency Alerts are a public information service that the Government has developed to alert citizens to emergencies, both nationwide and in their local area, that represent 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 receives the message, when they have 4G coverage, 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.  This service was first considered as part of the Government’s coronavirus response capability however it will serve a wider purpose 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 FAQ's


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 device's other features you will have to acknowledge the alert.  The emergency alert message may include telephone numbers and/or website links containing further info.  If in doubt you should search ‘Government emergency alert’ in a web browser to verify it. 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. 



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


  • A device needs to be on 4G or 5G to receive an alert, if the device is in a location where 4G is unavailable the alert will not be received.


  • The device does not have the latest software update, or the software update has not been released (older devices have a slower update cycle).


  • The device is not able to receive the alerts as it is no longer supported.


  • The device is not a 4G-enabled device. 


  • The device was switched off.


  •  The device was not connected to a mast broadcasting the Emergency Alert.



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) which 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 that provide a 4G service.



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.



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 should include a phone number or a link to 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.



More information can be found by visiting this site, About Emergency Alerts