Mobile phone alerts for major emergencies to be tested in Glasgow

A system of mobile phone alerts used to warn members of the public about major emergencies has been tested in Glasgow.

The city is the second location, from a total of three, in the UK to pilot messaging that would allow the public to be updated on natural disasters, terror attacks or large-scale accidents.

As part of a series of tests being carried out by the Cabinet Office, Glasgow City Council sent messages to O2 customers in a defined area in the city centre using location-based SMS technology.

Three messages were sent over several hours on Thursday afternoon. The message made clear the texts were part of a trial.

Annemarie O’Donnell, executive director of corporate services at Glasgow City Council, said: “The council has a legal duty to have systems in place to allow us to communicate with people in the city in the event of an emergency.

“We already have many different methods of communication, including the council’s Twitter feed, which has more than 35,000 followers.

“However, being able to send messages directly to mobile phones in a specific geographic area would be an added bonus and would allow us to communicate with large numbers of people, including those who may only be passing through the city.

“Ensuring that people receive timely, accurate information in the event of an emergency plays a crucial role in helping councils and the emergency services deal with an incident.”

Billy Darcy, public sector managing director at O2, said: “We believe mobile technology can play a vital and effective role in the simultaneous mass communication of emergency messages to the public, should the need ever arise.

“We look forward to assessing the results of the trial, once it is completed, and agreeing the next steps with the government.”

The pilot in Easingwold in North Yorkshire took place on September 18 and the third is planned for Wednesday November 20 in Leiston in Suffolk.

More than 50,000 people are expected to be involved across all three locations to assess how well the technology works and how the public reacts to it.


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