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This is a test

Paul Brislen, Editor. 26 November 2018, 7:13 am

The annual test of the Civil Defence Emergency Mobile Alert system went off last night with few hitches, although if social media is any barometer, some recipients were surprised to discover the alert was a "presidential" which is somewhat alarming.

Sarah Stuart-Black, director of the Ministry for Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) says in a blog post that around three million phones will have received the test alert.

"Fast and reliable information is crucial when emergencies strike. Emergency Mobile Alert is another vital information channel for alerting people if their life, health or property is in danger," she says.

Emergency Mobile Alert uses cell broadcast technology, common in a number of countries around the world. Because it's pushed out to capable phones, there is no app or subscription required and users cannot opt out. Even international travellers with capable devices will receive the alert if they're in New Zealand.

"All you need is a mobile phone that is capable of receiving Emergency Mobile Alerts, and a network signal," says the Civil Defence website.

Last year's test saw around one third of New Zealand users receive the alert - this year that number is expected to top 50% as the user base upgrade their handsets.

Last month Hawaii used its Emergency Mobile Alert capability to warn of torrential rain and potential flooding in Honolulu. The signal did not get through to all users however, as some were sleeping off what was described as "jet lag".


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