Photograph by John Borren RGP

A new way to let people know about an emergency is coming to a phone near you.

That’s the message from the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management which is leading the implementation of a new nationwide emergency alert channel.

A live nationwide test will be held on November 26 to check the new system.

Director of Emergency Management Bay of Plenty Clinton Naude said the alerts were sent using cell broadcast technology, so there was no need to sign up or download an app.

“They can be targeted to affected areas, so you will only get them if the emergency is in your area. This means if your phone is on, capable of receiving them and inside the targeted area, you should get the alerts. You can find out whether your phone has the required update and can receive the alerts at civildefence.govt.nz.”

Emergency Mobile Alerts are different to the existing text alert platform in place in the Bay of Plenty.

Mobile phone and internet traffic can easily overload the network, where as Emergency Mobile Alerts use a dedicated cell broadcasting channel. This means that all capable phones in the targeted area will get that notification at the same time.

“In an emergency we make use of all available channels to alert people. That’s because people get their information from different places and every channel has its advantages and disadvantages. For example not all phones are capable of receiving these alerts, not everyone is signed up to Facebook and not everyone listens to the radio. We will be using this new system in addition to our existing suite of alerting tools,” said Naude.

Minister of Civil Defence, Kris Faafoi, said Emergency Mobile Alerts were an additional channel to help keep New Zealand safe in an emergency and did not replace other alerting systems, or the need to take action after natural warnings.

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

Details

You can find out whether your phone has the required update and can receive the alerts at civildefence.govt.nz.

Emergency Mobile Alerts can only be sent by the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management, Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups, NZ Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The nationwide test is a way to test systems, the cell towers and a phone’s ability to receive an Emergency Mobile Alert.

Source: Rotorua Daily Times

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