BRITS may hear a loud blast from their phones today – as authorities test a new national emergency alarm.
The Government will try out a terror alert between 1pm and 2pm, and those living in East Suffolk have been chosen to trial the tech.
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A loud siren noise will sound from some mobiles or tablet this afternoon as part of the test.
A second test will then be held in Reading on June 15.
If it is successful, the system will be rolled out across the UK.
And while those picked for the trial might be a bit unnerved, officials say no response is required.
Once the system is up and running it will send alerts to people in areas where there is a risk to life, such as during flood or terror attack.
But people have been warned their phones must be up-to-date to get the messages.
The alerts will only work on iPhones running iOS 14.5 or later, or Android phones and tablets running Android 11 or later.
Emergency alert systems are used across the world.
The USA, Netherlands, Canada, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand all have such a system in place.
However, the UK has never had an emergency alert, despite trials a decade ago.
As a result, during the early stages of the pandemic in Britain, the Government had to rely on mobile operators to send messages to customers.
New emergency alarm system trialled in UK
Under the plans, Brits will get alerts to their mobiles for emergency situations – including public health emergencies, severe floods, fires, industrial incidents and terror attacks.
It comes after text messages were sent out during the pandemic via mobile providers.
If the new system is put in place, cell broadcasting technology will be used to ensure alerts are "secure, free to receive, and one-way".
The system does not use people's phone numbers.
Instead, alerts are sent to anyone in a specific area from a mobile phone mast.
Every compatible phone and tablet in range will get the alert.
The Government is working with authorities around the UK to ensure all emergency services have access to the system.
Charity organisations will also be involved in the development of the system to make sure elderly, vulnerable and young people, as well as those with disabilities, are "fully considered".
It will be possible to opt-out of some alerts through the phone's settings.
However, the most important alerts will always come through, and the Government recommends that people do not opt-out.
In the future, it wants to be able to contact people with both national and local alerts.
Personal details including phone numbers don't need to be shared, and the tech means there's no extra strain on the phone network.
Paymaster General Penny Mourdant said it will help the UK respond more quickly to disaster situations.
"The Emergency Alerts service will be a vital tool in helping us to better respond to emergencies, both nationally and locally," she said.
“The concept was used to good effect during the pandemic when we asked people, via text message, to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
"This new system builds on that capability and will allow us to more quickly and effectively get life-saving messages to people across the UK.”
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