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UK mobile phone alert trial hits trouble

London: Decades after Britain turned off its nationwide network of air raid sirens, a new system was established to warn citizens in case of emergency.

A rainy Sunday afternoon is punctuated by a loud siren-like alarm and 10-second vibration for millions of people, with a message on the home screens of 4G and 5G devices that no action is required for testing was displayed.

A smartphone with a London emergency alert system banner.credit: APs

Some reported sirens going off early and late, others not receiving any alerts at all, and up to 10 million phones were lost. A technology expert was struggling to understand why a customer of Three, one of the UK’s largest mobile networks, was not receiving her 10-second alerts.

There were reports on social media that the sirens went off at 2:59pm instead of the scheduled 3pm. Others said alerts came minutes late or were received multiple times. Otherwise, messages were only received when signals were available. It didn’t always work if the phone was only connected to her Wi-Fi.

However, training had to be interrupted by television and radio news bulletins, matinee theater performances and the World Snooker Championships at the Crucible in Sheffield. Participants in the London Marathon also suffered from confusion when an emergency alarm sounded as they approached the finish line.

A new emergency warning system is designed to warn the public of nearby life hazards, such as floods and wildfires. The “broadcast” system can also be used to warn of security threats such as terrorist attacks, as in other countries such as the Netherlands.

People check their alarms on Carnaby Street in London.

People check their alarms on Carnaby Street in London. credit: APs

Security agencies are wary that the alarm, if used incorrectly during an ongoing terrorist event, could reveal the location of members of the public hiding from attackers.

The United States, Canada, and Japan have similar services, which have been credited with saving lives during severe weather. But they are not foolproof. In 2018, people in Hawaii were misrepresented as being under a missile attack, causing widespread panic.

https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/brits-suffer-through-government-s-bungled-emergency-alert-trial-20230424-p5d2rh.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world UK mobile phone alert trial hits trouble

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