The United Kingdom government will today perform its first national test of a new Emergency Alerts system. Today’s test will be limited to Android users, while iPhones will be tested later this month in a smaller, regional test, says the Cabinet Office.
The government-issued emergency alerts, which are expected to go live this summer, are similar to those issued in the U.S. that are intended to warn smartphone and tablet users if there’s a danger to life nearby. Alerts will be either national or localized depending on the threat. Alerts will be issued in cases of severe flooding, fires, explosions, terrorist incidents, and public health emergencies.
When alerts are sent, a user’s phone or tablet will make a loud siren-like noise, alerting users to the emergency. The alert will sound, even if the device is set to silent. When an alert is received, the device will make a sound and vibrate, lasting about 10 seconds, Some alerts will include a phone number or a link to the GOV.UK website.
Today’s national test is due to occur between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. local time and will be limited to Android devices. iPhone will be included in a more localized test on Tuesday, June 29. That test will occur in the Reading, Berkshire area.
Although users can opt-out of some emergency alerts, the most serious alerts cannot be turned off. Users cannot opt-out by subject, only by the severity of the emergency. For this reason, the government advises users to keep all alerts enabled.
Emergency alerts are available on iPhones running iOS 14.5 or later in Settings -> Notifications, under “Emergency Alerts,” where there’s a switch to disable “Severe Alerts.”