Alert you can’t ig­nore

Lat­est tool to warn of civil de­fence emer­gency sends mo­biles a mes­sage.

Herald on Sunday - - THIS WEEK - By Matthew The­unis­sen

If you hear a shrill ring­ing com­ing from your cell­phone, it could be time to head for the hills as the Gov­ern­ment launches a new mo­bile emer­gency sys­tem.

The chan­nel will send an emer­gency alert mes­sage to cell­phones in ar­eas of im­pend­ing danger, as well as a sound that can’t be ig­nored.

Min­is­ter of Civil De­fence Kris Faafoi said it would start with a live na­tion­wide test on Novem­ber 26.

“By run­ning this test and ask­ing peo­ple to be aware of the alerts, we are able to test our sys­tems, the cell tow­ers and your phone’s abil­ity to re­ceive an emer­gency mo­bile alert.

“This is a test for now but when emer­gen­cies hap­pen this is an­other tool we can use to keep ev­ery­one in our com­mu­nity safe.”

Not all phones were ca­pa­ble of re­ceiv­ing alerts so the min­is­ter urged peo­ple to in­form their neigh­bours, friends, whanau and col­leagues if they re­ceive one.

The sys­tem in­volves the coun­try’s three ma­jor tel­cos Spark, Voda­fone and 2de­grees. It uses cell broad­cast­ing tech­nol­ogy.

Mes­sages could be tar­geted to cell tow­ers within a spe­cific area so only those po­ten­tially at risk would get them. The sys­tem was not ca­pa­ble of tar­get­ing spe­cific phones.

Phones would have to be in cell­phone range and switched on. They could over-ride the “silent” func­tion on some phones.

Civil De­fence, po­lice, the Fire Ser­vice, the Min­istry of Health and the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries all have ac­cess to the sys­tem.

Faafoi em­pha­sised it was an ad­di­tional chan­nel to help keep peo­ple safe in an emer­gency and did not re­place other alert sys­tems and in­for­ma­tion chan­nels, or the need to take ac­tion af­ter nat­u­ral warn­ings.

“If you feel your life may be in danger, don’t wait for an of­fi­cial warn­ing. Take im­me­di­ate ac­tion.”

In Oc­to­ber, un­happy New Zealan­ders were wo­ken about 1.30am on a Wed­nes­day when a test mes­sage for the sys­tem was ac­ci­den­tally sent by the Europe-based ser­vice provider tri­alling it dur­ing their day­time hours.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.