Nationwide test planned for Emergency Mobile Alert system

New Zealanders are set to start receiving emergency alerts to their mobile phones, warning them that their life, property or health is in serious danger.

Minister of Civil Defence Kris Faafoi said implementation would start with a live nationwide test of Emergency Mobile Alerts on 26 November. “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 phones ability to receive an Emergency Mobile Alert,” Mr Faafoi says.

“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 are currently capable of receiving the alerts, so we need people to look after others: if you receive an alert, tell your neighbours, your whanau, your colleagues.”

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) is leading the implementation of the new emergency alert channel. A nationwide multi-media campaign starts today (Sunday), online, on radio and on street posters, letting people know about the alerts and how to check whether their phones will receive them.

The alerts are sent using cell broadcast technology, so there is 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. It is expected that around one third of phones will immediately be able to receive alerts but this will rise over time. You can check whether your phone can receive the alert and find out more at civildefence.govt.nz.

Minister Faafoi says Emergency Mobile Alert is an additional channel to help keep New Zealand safe in an emergency and does not replace other alerting 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.  For example in local source tsunami, there may not be time to send an alert. Please recognise the natural warnings and get safe – ‘Long or Strong, Get Gone’”.

Emergency Mobile Alert messages 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.

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