UK Government testing emergency text alerts this month

Residents in British towns will be sent dummy emergency texts this autumn, and asked for feedback.

Up to 50,000 UK residents will be sent test emergency messages this autumn, as the government plots a warning system that could eventually send a text to every British smart phone.

The test message will be sent out to Brits in Easingwold, Leiston and Glasgow, and will ask recipients to give feedback and attend focus groups to report on how the system worked, the BBC reports.

The government will bolt together a report in early 2014 on the success of the tests, which are set to kick off this month and last into November.

Testing will deploy dummy emergency alerts to citizens using both SMS and a tech called CB (cell broadcast), which is on a separate network and uses messages that can only be sent by network operators.

The government's eventual plan is to get a system up and running that could send a message to UK residents' phones in the case of an emergency such as extreme weather, a flu pandemic, major terrorist attack or other horrid things that don't bear thinking about, but are probably good to be notified of.

Emergency systems of this sort are already up-and-running in other nations including the US and Australia, though the Beeb quotes a security bod who notes that "spoofability will go through the roof" if the government uses ordinary texts for the alerts.

Is the risk of false alerts from hackers or pranksters worth it to have a nation-wide alert system? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.

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About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

 

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