Emergency alerts - Discussion thread

So glad to see the UK using this eventually, it’s been in use in other countries for a long time: Time set for UK Emergency Alerts test - GOV.UK

What are other peoples opinions on this optional alert system? I think it’s a good idea and personally I don’t think the UK will issue “Amber alerts” like they do in the USA for kidnapped and lost children, so we likely won’t hear this often

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It’s not though, is it? You’ll get the alerts whether you want it or not.

They’re just a US thing so I doubt we’d have any. I think it’d just put people off and increase the anti-emergency alert sentiment.

I totally agree. I always thought it was super weird that the UK didn’t have a national alert system. As someone who never watches any terrestrial TV or listens to radio (and has no news apps, to keep my sanity) I would not find out about emergencies otherwise.

Though despite most of the world using this system in one form or another it’s interesting that it’s once again triggered the British anti-change collective sentiment. “But what about motorists? They’ll crash!” “Domestic abuse victims!” It’s something I always found strange living here. If something is for the common good people will always find a reason to oppose it just because it’s new.


I have no issue with it, but plenty will, including on here.

Sometimes you just need to accept something and stop the conspiracy theory paranoia.


In terms of it being optional, you can turn off the setting on your phone

On iOS you go to settings → notifications → emergency notifications and turn them off


I didn’t know that, and it makes even less sense why people are so upset. People with hidden phones can just turn those alerts off/the phones off.


As long as all those that are being abused keeping second phones hidden know its happening and can turn off the alert then it should be fine.

I guess they could have sent a normal sms to everyone to say its happening on x date and how to opt out etc


Massive shout out to the team on the other side of the office who have built and delivered this. That is all


Yes, this is what concerns me about it. Organisations that support people in this position appear to be doing their best to get the message out, though.

Personally, I just don’t like sudden loud noises so I’ve set a calendar reminder for 5 minutes before the test.


Refuge have produced this video:


Same - though I’m happier with a loud noise alerting people to a potential terrorist incident than them being caught up in it.

Though be interesting to know how quickly the alert can be sent out from the reporting of an incident, and what safeguards there are to make sure it is a genuine alert? There will have to be a balance between speed of response vs checking of the validity?

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Of course, same here. I did think about turning the alerts off but I’d rather know what it’s going to sound like in case there’s a real incident.


You can’t miss it.

I experienced it during a strange holiday in Greece in Oct 2020. Loads of people in the pool area and INSTANTLY every device emitted a sound like you’ve never heard, accompanied by a screen overlay.

It was the major earthquake in Turkey. Greece expected huge tidal waves, so everyone retreated inside. Those waves never happened, but that notification may well have saved lives if they did.

Original screenshot here:

I’ve never heard anything like it, with hundreds of devices going off. Curious if the sound will be the same during the upcoming test.


I think it’s the same sound for all. When I was in Florida last year everyone’s phone kept going off for the huge hurricane coming.

Was so weird to experience for the first time

I don’t mind as long as they don’t abuse it. I was in Greece during the pandemic and I got one like twice a day, eventually just turned them off. Most of them were intended for places 100s of miles from where we were.

Realistically, we should basically never receive one, it’s just good to have in an absolute emergency. My whole life so far I haven’t been in a situation where I genuinely would have needed an emergency alert.

So yes, fine with it if they aren’t trigger happy with them.

I don’t see us being too trigger happy thankfully.

I probably have been in situations, given I live in London. The roaming terror attacks in central London probably warrant people possibly nearby being told to avoid the area. As it happens I had news alert to avoid London Bridge on my walk home but if I didn’t then it would have been important to know to avoid the area.

I was in central at the same time, but given it took 8 minutes from the start of the attack to the attackers being shot by police and the area secured, I really doubt an emergency alert would have gotten out in time to save anyone, and anyone in danger was probably aware the attack was taking place.

But generally sure, a terrorist attack would be the kind of place they should use them.

With smartphones it’s likely everyone will know in loads of situations first.

Most attacks can’t immediately be confirmed it’s just the one person so even when one is detained you need caution for a while. Case in point 7/7 when people were moved from tubes to buses :grimacing:

But yeah, I don’t see us being trigger happy with them. Better to have and not need.


I hope we won’t too. My slight worry is they’ll be like ‘there’s a heatwave’, ‘it’s a bit windy’ or ‘there’s something happening miles away you don’t need to do anything about’. But very hopefully not!

If a nuclear missile is on its way I want to be alerted. If it’s a sunny day, I’d rather not be :sweat_smile:. But anyway I can always turn them off. iPhone also lets you chose to turn off ‘severe’ and ‘extreme’ alerts separately which might help


Does anyone know how local the alerts can be?

I’m basically in favour of the idea but, like others, wondering how and when it might be used.

The great storm of 1986? Although in this context the alert is essentially just a weather forecast.

9/11? Maybe, though nothing actually happened in London in the end, there were evacuations of some high rise buildings because people feared aircraft might start hitting London targets.

London Bridge attacks? Once the attack is over - and that’s usually just a few minutes for these MTFA attacks - there’s little need to broadcast an alert, other than for reasons of traffic management.

I can think of a few large fires over the years where there has been advice to close windows and remain in doors, to keep out toxic fumes.

Talking of fires, could this have been used to give an evacuate order in Grenfell?

There have been large infrastructure failures - I’m thinking of power and water really - where perhaps contacting people in affected areas might be useful.

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No need to worry about nuclear annihilation if it’s sunny.