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Emergency text message alert tests in Easingwold
A NORTH YORKSHIRE town has been selected to test a mobile phone message system alerting people about major emergencies.
Cell broadcasting, which will allow the public to be updated about natural disasters such as flooding, terrorist attacks and large-scale accidents, is being piloted in Easingwold today. Similar trials are being staged in Suffolk and Glasgow city centre.
The system means messages can be sent to every active handset near a chosen mobile phone mast without individual phone numbers being needed, with text messages also being sent using the locations of phones tracked by mobile network firms.
The tests, covering more than 50,000 people at the three locations, will analyse how well the technology works and how people react to it, with the aim of providing a better response if future disasters and emergencies strike.
Cabinet office minister Francis Maude said the tests were not linked to any specific threat or hazard in the three pilot areas, but the locations had been chosen because of their “diverse” nature. He said: “We want to look at how effective the different systems are in different areas, using mobile phones to deliver mass messaging.
“The message itself will make clear that it is only a test and I do not want the public to be alarmed in any way. We are also looking for help from the public in evaluating how well the tests worked and how they felt about receiving messages in this way, and we would welcome the public’s views.”
Mr Maude said ensuring people get “quick and accurate information in the event of an emergency” would ensure an effective response, and the results of the test would help developer systems for future emergencies.
The Easingwold test will include the area covered by the emergency planning college in Hawkhills and members of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum will be involved.
Anybody wanting to take part in follow-up research into the tests must live in one of the areas included in today’s pilot, and they can email email@example.com for more details. They will be able to give their views through an online survey and local focus groups.
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