June 15, 2024

Mobile phones across the UK will sound a “loud siren” for up to 10 seconds on Sunday as part of tests of a new emergency alert system being rolled out by the UK government.

Governments and agencies around the world use similar alert systems in life-threatening situations such as terrorist attacks and hazardous weather. In many cases, these alerts are sent in the form of notifications or text messages, warning people on dangerous roads to take shelter or go to safety.

In the UK, the testing of the warning service has sparked a backlash, with some officials and organizations encouraging people to switch off the service.

Here’s something to know.

People with smartphones across the UK, including visiting tourists, will receive what the government calls a “loud siren” with a vibrating alert at 3pm on Sunday

“It will appear on your device’s home screen and you must confirm it before you can use other functions,” the UK government said in an announcement about the alert.

Alerts will be sent via cell towers, which will warn anyone in danger.In a statement, the UK government said they were intended to be used “rarely” statementadding that the alert would only be used if there was “an immediate threat to people’s lives.”

Similar warning procedures are in use around the world, including the United States, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan.They’re not always favored, as happened Thursday when a test alert was sent in Florida at 4:45 a.m.

Like the way they are used in the UK, alerts are issued during emergencies such as mass shootings, floods, wildfires, tornadoes and other natural disasters. When a gunman opened fire on the Michigan State University campus in February, students were alerted to the situation via text message, and many waited overnight for emergency system updates.

In some cases, they are also used to warn residents not to use city water when utility operations are interrupted.

Sunday’s test of the new emergency alert service has already drawn some backlash. For some people, the alarm that may sound for up to 10 seconds is considered annoying. North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg told his followers Twitter “Turn off unnecessary and intrusive alerts.”

For others, the alert raised serious privacy concerns. refugean organization that helps women and children who have experienced domestic abuse, is advising abuse survivors to turn off the service because they fear that hidden phones in their homes may ring.

In response to such criticism, the UK government said it had been working with organizations working with “vulnerable women and girls” to ensure they were not adversely affected by the introduction of emergency alerts, adding that they could opt out if they wanted to Their phones remain hidden.

Others have been concerned that the alarm could access personal information on the phone, such as location data, but the UK government said that shouldn’t be a problem because the alarm system works through cell phone towers. Personal data and exact locations will not be collected or shared, the government said.

The alert can be turned off by searching for “emergency alerts” in your phone’s settings and turning off “critical” and “extreme” alerts.

Brits can also avoid getting test alerts on Sunday by turning off their phones or putting them in airplane mode during the test.

The alarm will only sound on phones with the latest available software, such as iPhones running iOS 14.5 or later and Android phones and tablets running Android 11 or later.

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