People in Suffolk may in the next few months be sent a text message warning them a natural disaster or a terrorist attack has occurred.
But fear not – the texts are merely part of a government pilot scheme rather than an actual warning of the apocalypse.
Some 50,000 people in Suffolk, North Yorkshire and Glasgow will get the message on their mobile phone as central Government looks to evaluate the mass-text alert as a means of warning people when there may be a genuine incident.
Cell broadcasting, which allows messages to be sent out to every active handset near a chosen mobile mast without the need for individual telephone numbers, will be tested along with messages sent out using the locations of phones tracked by network operators.
The pilots, in Easingwold in North Yorkshire, Glasgow city centre, and Leiston, will assess how well the technology works and how the public reacts to it.
Cabinet office minister Francis Maude said: “The Government and three mobile phone companies, O2, Vodafone and EE, will conduct separate tests later this year to look at a how different technologies work and how the
public react when they receive an emergency alert to their phone.
“I want to reassure the public that these tests are not linked to any threat or specific hazard in their area.
“We have included diverse areas - both rural and urban - as part of our tests, as we want to look at how effective the different systems are in different areas in using mobile phones to deliver mass messaging.
“Messages will be sent to mobile phones in the test areas by SMS in parts of Suffolk and Glasgow, and by SMS and cell broadcasting in parts of Yorkshire.
“In total, approximately 50,000 people across the three areas may receive the messages.
“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 which they can provide via an online survey or a series of focus groups.”
For all the latest news see Thursday’s (October 3) Echo.