UK to launch ‘loud siren-like’ alert on all phones nationwide – Reuters

Government says new system will protect public against ‘range of threats’

Mobile phone users across the UK will receive a loud warning message next month as the government tests an emergency alert system. Alerts will sound even if phones are in silent mode and users will not be able to use their devices until they acknowledge the warning message.

Described by the government as “save lives,” the emergency alert system was launched on Sunday and will be tested across the country in the early evening of April 23. The test alert will vibrate any phone connected to a 4G or 5G mobile network and will be accompanied by “a loud siren-like sound” up to ten seconds.

A warning message will then remain on the phone screen, preventing normal use until acknowledged.

After the test, real warning messages will focus on extreme weather incidents such as floods or forest fires. However, the BBC has reported that terror alerts may also be broadcast in the future.

Similar systems are already in use in the United States, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands.

“This will revolutionize our ability to warn and inform those in immediate danger and help us keep people safe,” Duchy of Lancaster Chancellor and MP Oliver Dowden said in a statement. “As we’ve seen in the United States and elsewhere, the hum of a phone can save a life.”

Those who don’t want their Sunday night out interrupted by a government horn, however, can disable emergency alerts in their phone’s settings menu.

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