New public emergency text alert system to be trialled

Gabby Fernie

A new emergency alert text system will be trialled this summer before being rolled out across the UK, according to the BBC

Warnings in the event of a risk to life, including terror attacks, fires or severe flooding will be sent directly to people's phones. 

The first trial will be in East Suffolk on 25 May, when residents will receive a test alert. A second test will be held in Reading on 15 June. If the trials are successful, the system will be rolled out across the UK.

Similar systems exist in other countries, such as New Zealand and have been widely credited with saving lives.

The system will use cell towers in the vicinity of an incident and will be received within ten seconds of transmission. The messages are free to receive and do not identify the location of the person receiving the message.

The Cabinet Office minister, Penny Mordaunt told the BBC that the government was working with the devolved administrations to ensure all emergency services have access to the system, as well as consulting the charity sector to make sure "the needs of the elderly, vulnerable, young people and those with disabilities are fully considered as the new service is delivered."

It will be possible to opt-out of some alerts through the phone's settings, although the government advises against this.