Jump to content

Emergency Text Alerts


Recommended Posts

Noticed this in the news today, a new emergency alert text system will be trialled this summer before being rolled out across the UK. Warnings will be sent directly to people's phones in the event a risk to life, such as flooding or fire.

Full details Emergency Text Alert

A good idea or more big brother?

Link to comment

I am sure it has some limited uses, but already it seems like it will be abused if that BBC report is anything to go by.

Take a marauding terrorist attack in a city centre or a US school/Hungerford type shooting spree. Cell technology should make it possible to send updates to limited local areas. Excellent

I live in the London suburbs and work in central London. I have been in the city twice in recent years when attacks have happened and have resorted to the BBC and Sky for the latest information which has been fast and usually accurate. Will this Govt scheme be any quicker?

When you consider that the LFB, LAS & Met's Control Centres have Sky & BBC News feeds into their command spaces, as does the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms (COBRA) and most local Central Govt Dept and Local Authority Cris Teams rely on the same news feeds - I reckon those who send the texts will use similar sources of info, so it will probably be slower 

Plus looking at they BBC news release, they are showing a Covid reminder as a message. Sod that!

What next, reminders about keeping to the speed limit? Picking up your dog poo? Not forgetting your Mum on Mothers day?  Soon there will be ads for Kellogs Cornflakes or 'Vote Boris' messages.

Do you remember when we used to supply personal details to DVLC just to tax and register our cars? I do, but now they sell that same information to 101 licensed users from car parks to private clampers. Who is to say our data will not be sold? I know Boris and Co are promising that, but that's about as reliable as finding a tasty sandwich on a train 

For me, the inclusion of Covid messages is a real deal breaker. By all means interrupt me to tell me a mad gunman is running amok near the restaurant I am in, but don't go interrupting a meeting to tell me 'Hands, Face and Space' - How patronising😮

For those reasons I am out. 

Link to comment

We used a similar smaller scale system when we had wide scale flooding, it has some value if the messages are definitive and agreed with recipients (opt in ) but this does seem a bit open ended and how many of us “switch off” because of the adverts/sell on other media applications ! I get weather alerts on my phone etc..suppose it’s not that much different. But like Messy..I’m out.

Link to comment

Question, why big brother?

My understanding of this technology is that the text is broadcast to all users in a certain area regardless weather the number is signed up, its a push technology.

Agree with idea of critical information i.e. terrorist incident or other safety critical incident i.e. chemical release at local industry, flooding or something that could affect me. If used to say hands face space then no.

The only issue is that mobile networks get overwhelmed and have been know to be shut down so weather it would still work not sure, obviously it would only be on for MTPAS users in this instance.  Also mobile networks are known to have delays look at New Years Eve back in the day, hence why critical services used pager networks as its quicker and reliable.

In principal good idea, I suppose a traditional text is rare these days for those that use all the different messaging apps I know WhatsApp is my go to and the only actual text messages I get are 2 factor security codes mainly to verify my logins to the various systems I use so when they come in when not expected I do look at them.

Link to comment

Matt, having it linked and only to MTPAS users would surely defeat the object of mass push text information ? as only cat1/2 registered devices are on on MTPAS, and you be surprised as to how many devices are not included on individual registration numbers(you only have a certain allocation unless police ...I think all their comms though are registered) and in the event of a instantaneous event could be forgotten as yet another process to activate.

for anyone who wants to find out more on MTPAS Wikipedia explains it quite well in simple terms (other info sources are available) 😉-  Mtpas

Link to comment

Sorry probably not clear what I meant was if they are using this to send alerts out say about terror incident or what ever if the network is disabled to Joe Public and only MTPAS were enabled it would defeat the object unless it can override that so Joe Public would get the message.

If they want to go ahead with this it should only be for critical incidents, I would be a bit reluctant to add fire into it unless its a factory with chemical in about to explode type incident but that that's going off a bit.  

Will be watching see what comes of it.  

You are right only limited devices on MTPAS for a cat 1 responder (or used to be 10 years ago when I had any involvement in it).

Link to comment

@Mattprobably similar timescales for me -  station manager in our resilience team ! Service wanted every user on it ! I had to educate them....lol

Link to comment

My understand is that it is the same system they use in the US for weather and Amber alerts etc. its the specific area message encoding system

When I've been working over there it works quite well for tornado warnings. It tells you to seek immediate cover.  Also seen a few amber and silver alerts. Of which the people are generally spotted quite quickly.

I've always been quite surprised we didn't have a similar system. though it does sometimes go very wrong 😆 

Link to comment
  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

I live on the north Wales coast in a flood risk area, for many years we have recieved recorded "imminent flood" warnings on our fixed and mobile telephones from the Environment Agency when very high tides are expected.

In 1990, the only warning was 1 metre of sea water coming up the streets.


Link to comment

I am intrigued that it will buzz the phone even if set to silent. I havent heard of that before and I hope that technology isnt stolen by advertisers/spammers !!!

In the job I did after leaving the fire service, I was required occasionally to operate a mass emergency texting system for around 8,000 staff and associates. The system could be broken down so that just some depts or locations would receive messages or just certain grades of staff (eg Directors sitting in a Gold meeting during an incident). It proved very useful on a number of occasions, including after fire drills to get staff out of the local Costas/Starbucks and back in the office!

The controlling IT system was a bespoke one made for us and it wasnt the most reliable technically. One night in the early morning, and all clear message was sent in error to everyone (it would be usually sent after the conclusion of an incident or building closure).  Investigations revealed that some dickhead had not ticked a box when using it during an exercise the day before..................... Guess who that was? Whoops. Lots of very tired staff in the next day and it was all my fault!!

So good luck to the Govt Dept or company employee who is responsible for this early warning system. I doubt it would take too many false alarms before many sign out of it which would be regrettable. 

Link to comment
3 hours ago, Messyshaw said:

I doubt it would take too many false alarms before many sign out of it which would be regrettable. 

My understanding is you cant sign out..the only way to avoid it is to have your phone off.

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Can someone tell the boffins I'm on O2? 

I do find this whole system a bit confusing though. I can't imagine it would be that useful given that most incidents are either obvious (e.g. tons of rain and living in a regularly flooded area), hugely time critical (e.g. wildfires) or extremely specific location (e.g. terrorist attack). Would this system actually spread awareness faster than current methods of simply prioritising rescues, evacuations, dealing with the threat etc?

In cases where there is an established risk like flooding, would it not just be better to have an alarm system like a siren?

Do any other nations use a similar system?

Link to comment

Didn't get one, I'm on ID Mobile.

Its a pointless exercise anyway. Its just another 20 million pounds of tax payers money down the pan. To go with the billions and billions they've already wasted on stupid projects.

Link to comment

This is not to be confused with standard SMS text messages, they are slow to deliver and can take 48 hours to go through.  The flood alerts use SMS not the cell technology used for this.

The cell broadcast that was used for this is instant, any device online on a certain mast effectively would get the message althought the feature can be disabled in your phone its something that isn't new and has been available overseas for sometime.

The message is just broadcast from the tower effectively to all devices online in that area so it can be very localised without the need to know who is connected.

Clearly there was issues and lessons to be learnt.  I was in Leicester and to be honest I was disappointed as I barely heard it, there was 20 of us stood together serveral didn't get it, some got it early some got it several minutes early but all within 2 or 3 minutes so in the main the system does work.

For this to be effective and as far as I am aware its threat to life type situations and there is a whole process that has to be followed and authorised before a message can be sent out and is for emergencies only.

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...