Emergency mobile alert system planned by government

The government has revealed plans for a mobile alerting system that will be used to contact citizens in emergencies.

The plans were revealed in a post on The Cabinet Office website, where mobile operators were invited to offer their solutions for an alert system that the government says would have been useful following the Manchester bombing or the London Bridge attack.

The Cabinet office is pushing for a system that would enable the police to push emergency messages to members of the public. A key aspect of the proposal is the ability to restrict transmission to a fixed geographic area, the scope of which will be determined by the police.

According to the Cabinet Office proposal, the new system will allow emergency situations to be handled more efficiently, reducing panic.

In its criteria, the government says that the system “is intended that citizens receiving the message will act in a way to reduce overall harm and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the response to the incident. We are conscious that the message will be potentially received on all customer phones”.

It is envisaged that the initial trials will be completed by early spring this year. The Cabinet Office expects there to be two stages:

  • Stage I: Insights gained from existing experience within the selected supplier. A face-to-face presentation of the initial insights will help to inform the next stage and decision as to whether to proceed.
  • Stage 2: engagement, as appropriate, with the four MNOs and other appropriate suppliers of network equipment and services.

The government had previously conducted trials for such a system back in 2013 but has had to return to the plans as it admitted that the ‘that the technical and commercial landscapes have undergone a lot of recent change’.

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