23 November 2018
Tis the season to BEEEEEEEEEP - Nationwide test alert this Sunday
It’s not just Christmas that comes once a year. This Sunday, on 25 November, about three million phones are expected to chime - not with Jingle Bells, but with a loud noise marking the annual nationwide test alert from the Emergency Mobile Alert system.
The system, which is administered by the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) on behalf of a range of agencies, is undergoing a nationwide live test on Sunday between 6pm and 7pm.
Those people whose mobile phones are capable of receiving the alerts can expect to hear a loud, penetrating sound, and a notification will display. The test alert will link to the Civil Defence website, where people can fill out a brief survey about how they experienced the alert. This will inform future improvements to the system and gather feedback for mobile phone providers.
“Fast and reliable information is crucial when emergencies strike. Emergency Mobile Alert is another vital information channel for alerting people if their life, health or property is in danger,” says MCDEM Director Sarah Stuart-Black.
“Some people will be a little more used to the system if they received last year’s test message, or any of the messages that were issued throughout the year for local issues such as emergency boil water notices. For others, it will be the first time they’ve experienced it.”
Mrs Stuart-Black says Emergency Mobile Alert uses cell broadcast technology, which is also used in a number of countries including the United States, Japan, Chile and the Netherlands. There’s no need to subscribe or download an app - all you need is a mobile phone that is capable of receiving Emergency Mobile Alerts, and a network signal.
“It uses internationally proven technology that isn’t susceptible to overloading, which is vital when we need to rapidly alert a large number of people.
“However, no form of technology is completely failsafe, so it doesn’t replace other alerting channels such as radio or social media, or the need to act upon natural warning signs.”
Last year 34% of devices received the test alert; this is expected to rise to about half of all phones (about three million), because an increasing number of people now have Emergency Mobile Alert compatible phones.
Mrs Stuart-Black says the nationwide test is a way to test our systems, the cell towers and your phone’s ability to receive an Emergency Mobile Alert.
“Not all phones are capable of receiving the alerts, so if you receive an emergency alert, let others know. You can check whether your phone is capable of receiving alerts at www.civildefence.govt.nz. If you feel your life is in danger, don’t wait for an official warning.”
Mrs Stuart-Black says 2Degrees, Spark, and Vodafone have all actively supported the Emergency Mobile Alert system, which was launched with the first nationwide test alert in November last year.
What you need to know:
Find out more about Emergency Mobile Alerts at www.civildefence.govt.nz
23 November 2018
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