The UK government has launched a new Emergency Alerts page on its website explaining that it's testing the service on Android and iOS devices before rolling it out across all of blighty. Once it has been rolled out across the country, it'll alert users about nearby disasters so they can respond appropriately.
The types of incidents users will be notified about include severe flooding, fires, explosions, terrorist incidents, and public health emergencies. Alerts will be sent by the emergency services, such as the police, and government departments, agencies, and public bodies that deal with emergencies. The government believes the chance of you getting such an alert will be low.
To see these alerts, you must be using an iPhone or iPad running iOS 14.5 or later or an Android phone or tablet running Android 11 or later. Earlier versions of Android may receive these alerts if the Emergency Alerts feature was included on the device’s software. As an additional condition, only users on 4G and 5G will receive the alerts while those or 2G or 3G networks won’t be notified.
The government said that Emergency Alerts can be switched off but should be left on for your own safety. If your device is turned off or in aeroplane mode, it won’t be possible for messages to get through to you. If you stayed opted in, no data will be collected or shared about you, your device, or the location where you got the alert and the government doesn’t need your phone number to send messages.
All messages will be sent to you based on your current location rather than based on where you live or work. You do not need to sign up for anything nor download any apps and any alerts you receive will be free of charge. According to BBC News, the first trial will be held in East Suffolk on May 25 when residents will get a test alert. A second test will take place in Reading on June 15. If all goes to plan, the system will be rolled out around the country.