UK updates plans for public emergency text alert system

The UK government has updated its plans for a new public emergency text alert system with a launch now set for October. The system is intended to bolster the UK’s resilience and the move from the initial Summer 2022 date was announced by Lead Minister for Resilience and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Kit Malthouse MP.

“To make sure that government continues to offer the best possible prevention and protection against threats, we are shaking up how we prepare for and respond to emergencies, strengthening the effective resilience capability we already have in place,” stated Malthouse. “We will launch a new public emergency alerts system in the Autumn which will focus on extreme weather, revolutionising our ability to ‘warn and inform’ people who are in significant and immediate danger. These alerts will be sent direct to people’s mobiles giving details of the emergency – such as local flooding – explaining what to do and how to seek help.”

The emergency alerts system will focus on events like extreme weather and warning the public where there is a risk to life. The free message will give details of the emergency – local flooding or wildfires, for example – what to do and how to seek help, and will relay urgent messages to over 85% of mobile phones in areas affected. It will be launched in October in England and Wales following a public awareness campaign.

“The right messaging helps people take action to stay safe,” noted Ian Cameron, Director of Markets at the Met Office. “It is clear that we are seeing an increase in the number of extreme weather events in the UK and overseas. Just this summer we have seen temperatures in the UK exceed 40˚C for the first time on record. Communicating effectively is imperative so we can warn and alert people, ensuring they are aware and have more time to take action and look after themselves, their friends and family.”

Malthouse also announced changes to the Civil Contingencies Secretariat – the Cabinet Office’s emergency planning and response team. These changes will see a COBR Unit continuing to lead the government’s response to acute emergencies, and work on longer term planning being driven forward by a separate team dedicated to strengthening the UK’s underlying resilience. This National Resilience Framework Team in the Planning and Analysis Secretariat will take a deeper look at the government’s approach to risk and how it is mitigated as well as collecting and analysing live data to improve future responses to emergencies.

“Our vital COBR unit – which leads the government’s response to acute domestic and international emergencies – will be bolstered by a dedicated team helping to future-proof us from harm,” concluded Malthouse. “This National Resilience Framework Team will take a deeper look at our approach to risk and how we mitigate it and help us take huge leaps forward in terms of collecting, analysing and using live data.”


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