On Sunday 23 April at 3pm the government will be testing Emergency Alerts. This means there will be a test message sent to all compatible devices.
Crucially, and the main reason for us sending this notification, is that these alerts will make a loud noise on all compatible devices (i.e. modern smartphones and tablets) whether or not they are set to silent. Whilst the test and system is important, we are concerned about the risk of this to those with secret second phones, such as perhaps the victims of domestic abuse. We are therefore trying to use our platform to reach those people and spread the message put out by charities such as Refuge to ensure affected people are aware and can disable the alerts if they need to.
The Emergency Alerts service is a new government initiative to warn of danger to life nearby. It is neither a voice-call or a text message so doesn’t involve the Simwood network at all. Rather it is a broadcast by mobile phone masts in an affected area to which all compatible devices will respond. On Sunday this is being tested nationally. Devices may vibrate and make a loud siren-like noise, which will last around 10 seconds, even if the device is set to silent. They will also show the message on the screen.
Messages work on all UK 4G and 5G networks and can only be sent by government departments and emergency services, with no knowledge of your number or opt-in required. Devices in Airplane mode, switched off, or only connected to a 2G or 3G network at the time should not receive the messages.
Device settings can be changed to ensure devices do not respond to these broadcasts. Whilst ordinarily we wouldn’t recommend this, as the messages are for your own safety, we’re conscious there are circumstances where the messages could in themselves affect safety by highlighting the presence of an emergency or second device, even if it is set to silent.
The charity Refuge have created the following video for those who might need to disable alerts for their own safety.
For more information on Emergency Alerts please see http://gov.uk/alerts