back to article Post-lunch snooze plans dashed as the UK tests its Emergency Alerts... again

Mobile networks across the UK are once again set to panic their users this afternoon as part of a test of the government's Emergency Alerts system – causing selected mobiles to "make a loud, siren-like sound." Due to launch for full operation this summer, the government Emergency Alerts system is a messaging platform designed …

  1. IGotOut Silver badge

    Or just opt out completely.

    "If you opt out because you do not want flood warnings, for example, you might miss alerts for fires and terrorism"

    Well I live on a bloody great hill in a small village, so unless we're going to get alerts for sheep (or more likely deer) on the road, I'll take my chances thanks.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Or just opt out completely.

      Enjoy the peace while you can. It's only a matter of time until opting out of government messaging is denounced as cancel culture...

    2. Julz
      Alert

      Re: Or just opt out completely.

      Hum, what about the alert for a large alien spaceship skimming the earth that will hit high ground first...

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Or just opt out completely.

        Mate, just offer the ship a sheep, like people always used to do throughout the humanity.

      2. macjules

        Re: Or just opt out completely.

        The 3 icons on the gov.uk/alerts site are for flood, fire and what I took to be alien invasion ... until I looked at it more closely and realised it is an alert for extensive police corruption in your area.

      3. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

        Alien space ship

        No, they're all fitted with TAWS... 'Terrain! Pull up! Pull up!'

    3. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Or just opt out completely.

      I've had a few hurricane/severe storm/waterspout/twister warnings on my TV and radio in the US. The first scared the stuffing out of me as it hadn't been ovious there was anything coming. Then when the very strong winds and the horizontal but torrential rain started it was horrific.

      Missed this afternoons test my feature phone didn't get it at all. My smartphone was on Wifi only because there's no signal on the network that it's on where I'm working. I'm clearly doomed.

  2. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

    Works via mobile reception

    So it will have problems reaching those on a west facing beach beneath with no mobile signal. Not good if a piece of the La Palma falls into the sea. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumbre_Vieja_tsunami_hazard

  3. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "Every compatible mobile phone or tablet in range of a mast ..."

    "Every compatible mobile phone or tablet in range of a mast..." seems rather selective, even if you're not in a zero signal zone and have your phone charged and on all the time. As a disaster warning system, could this really be a surreptitious plan to ensure preferential survival of urban tech fanbois?

    They used to have bloody great sirens on long poles, which everyone in reasonable range (typically a mile or so) could hear without any high tech intermediary device. The detail was broadcast by radio on multiple bands so practically anyone could listen in on a massive range of alternative radio sets when alerted by the siren. Much simpler, much more universally accessible, and proven to work many times.

    1. Mr Humbug

      Re: "Every compatible mobile phone or tablet in range of a mast ..."

      You're right, they only want to alert people in good mobile coverage areas. You don't have to be in range of 'a mast', but rather 'a 4G or 5G mast'

      https://www.gov.uk/alerts/how-alerts-work

      > Mobile phone networks

      > Emergency alerts work on all 4G and 5G phone networks in the UK.

      > Phones and tablets connected to a 2G or 3G network will not receive emergency alerts.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: "Every compatible mobile phone or tablet in range of a mast ..."

        Phones and tablets connected to a 2G or 3G network will not receive emergency alerts.

        Why not? I thought emergency alerts was the new non-specific anxiety-inducing name for the old cell broadcast, which we all had on our chocolate-bar Nokias.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: "Every compatible mobile phone or tablet in range of a mast ..."

          Almost nobody that matters is on a 2G/3G phone.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: "Every compatible mobile phone or tablet in range of a mast ..."

            Let us not debate that, rather let us debate why should they be excluded if emergency alerts use cell broadcast and cell broadcast is a standard since GSM started.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: "Every compatible mobile phone or tablet in range of a mast ..."

              > rather let us debate why should they be excluded if emergency alerts

              Because you aren't worth marketing to

              I'm assuming emergency alerts will soon be sponsored by Amazon

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Every compatible mobile phone or tablet in range of a mast ..."

            Sorry, I only have a 3G phone and I matter (to me at least) It does what I need and does it well (voice, text, email, basic web) I couldn't care less about super download speeds or any other sh!t. I certainly don't need no Google or Apple sh!t, tracking me, following me, analysing me.

            Though as I also use a 4G data dongle I can happily state that 4G in reality is no faster than 3G.

            1. Mark 65

              Re: "Every compatible mobile phone or tablet in range of a mast ..."

              I can assure you your 3G traffic is tracked and analysed

          3. ibmalone

            Re: "Every compatible mobile phone or tablet in range of a mast ..."

            Many phones for older people are 2G, my grandfather had one of these: Doro 1360

            Though I guess not alerting them to danger is entirely consistent with gov.uk's modus operandi.

          4. nobody who matters

            Re: "Every compatible mobile phone or tablet in range of a mast ..."

            "Almost nobody that matters is on a 2G/3G phone."

            That would be me then :)

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: "Every compatible mobile phone or tablet in range of a mast ..."

              So you probably don't follow the glorious leader's twitter/instagram/onlyfans feed ?

  4. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Got an emergency alert years ago for a flood

    London flood defences worked as planned: they raised the level of the canal upstream (where I live) so London was safe. The canal level rose until it overflowed into the river (which flows back into the canal further down stream). The alert meant I went out to look at the really long waterfall over the tow path. It looked very cool. They need not bother with the alert again. 30 hours of continuous rain sends a clear message by itself.

  5. UCAP Silver badge

    First I've heard of this

    Not a peep out of my phone, and I have it set to inform me of all emergency alerts.

    1. Martin Summers

      Re: First I've heard of this

      I think the key word in the article was 'some'.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: First I've heard of this

        Mine has also been quiet; although I have a UK sim and a UK service provider, I live in DE so I suspect I was out of range.

        --> the one with the dual-sim phone in the pocket, obviously.

    2. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: First I've heard of this

      I read it was being sent to people in the Reading area.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: First I've heard of this

        Emergency Alert - you are in Reading

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: First I've heard of this

          OMG, what do I do now?

          1. UCAP Silver badge

            Re: First I've heard of this

            Proceed in a calm fashion to the nearest exit. Then run like hell.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: First I've heard of this

              >Proceed in a calm fashion to the nearest exit. Then run like hell.

              But not toward Basingstoke

              1. katrinab Silver badge
                Alert

                Re: First I've heard of this

                Or Slough, or Bracknell.

            2. macjules

              Re: First I've heard of this

              "Then run like hell"

              So not towards Newbury then?

  6. Mishak Silver badge

    What about those of us who only get WiFi Calling?

    Will we "be informed", or do we have to wait until the zombies swarm past the windows?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about those of us who only get WiFi Calling?

      You'll be waiting a while. Apparently you can't be attacked by Zombies in Reading any more and have to go to Basingstoke now...

  7. Antony Shepherd

    Well, I guess this may come in handy once that Quidshop Churchill Wannabe starts a war all Grand Fenwick style.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Err, Grand Fenwick won.

  8. Roopee
    FAIL

    Easy Opt-out...

    At least it's easy to opt out - for a very large number of people, just do nothing... the fact that they are not using an iOS 14.5+ or Android 11+ device, and/or aren't connected to a 4G/5G network will do the trick!

    As already pointed out, radio/TV aletts and large outdoor speakers would be far more effective, social media would do the rest. Probably much cheaper and more reliable too.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Easy Opt-out...

      social media would do the rest

      We're doomed: remember Orson Wells and the War of the Worlds? Now think of that shared by Fæcesbook.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Easy Opt-out...

        remember Orson Wells and the War of the Worlds? Now think of that shared by Fæcesbook.

        A significant number of FB denizens would be posting about how they were anally probed by the Martians.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Easy Opt-out...

          And the others would be posting pictures

  9. Lee D

    That's alright, because the first time I get one of those, my 4G SIM goes into the 4G router I can carry in my pocket and my phone goes into wifi only / no-SIM mode.

    Still get data, still get texts, can still make calls (VoIP, etc.) but won't be bothered by other people's "tests", alerts or anything else because the router literally doesn't have a method to alert me (no speaker).

    If you keep it for absolute and targeted emergencies, we're good. If we start getting that "wake the entire nation at 3am because of a vulnerable adult who's gone on a bus ride on their own" nonsense like America get, you can alert the inside of a silicon chip as far as I'm concerned.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Isn't it easier to disable the option if you don't want it?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Yes but then you don't get the "chemical plant a mile away just had a leak" warnings if you turn off the "divorced dad didn't return kid on time, 1000mi away but adminstratively in the same region" alarms

        Give umpteen layers of government a big red button and they will over use it.

      2. Lee D

        Yeah, ask the Americans about that.

        As I said... 3am alerts for a missing vulnerable adult 600 miles away, in a category that you can't turn off.

        If they can't keep their testing silent (there's no need for a test to actually alert a user, just have the handset acknowledge or display a message is fine), I don't hold out any hope that they'll categorise future alerts correctly (e.g. exactly like the Americans haven't done).

  10. un
    Megaphone

    Triggered by a small black button.

    It will alert 1% of the population and be hailed as a massive success. But don't worry it will only ever be triggered from orders signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters. So in the case of nuclear war it will probably activate 3-6 months after the initial flash

    Do you think they will let us customise the alert tone to something like this: https://youtu.be/dtNgOeqBKQU?t=62

  11. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    I guess it'll work really well then for ... oh, how about a small area of flooding in Lancaster. Oh wait - the power went off and the mobile networks stopped working.

    See One city’s experience of coping with loss of power(PDF). It's a good read and should be mandatory reading for anyone with even a passing interest in resilience planning. Among the "if it's not on Faecesborg then it didn't happen" generation, it must have been quite a shock to find that mobiles don't work without power both for the phone and the infrastructure that gets an Internet connection to it.

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