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Civil Defence alerts: probe after many failed to receive warnings

Paul Brislen, Editor. 23 October 2019, 3:41 pm

Civil Defence has begun an urgent review of its systems after emergency mobile alerts sent out regarding the Auckland Convention Centre fire did not go to all recipients in the area.

The alerting system, set up in 2017, sends a message to all capable devices in the vacinity of the incident. In this case that area, central Auckland, was being warned about possible toxicity in the smoke from the fire, which has been raging now for more than 30 hours.

However many in the area, including this reporter, did not receive the alert even with the latest software updates.

Civil Defence says it has sent two messages and is reviewing the issue.

This is not the first time the alerting system has struggled. Two false alarms were sent out inadvertently in 2017 - the first, a test message, warning of a 8.7 magnitude earthquake was sent in February of that year and then a tsunami warning was issued in March. However, since then the service has worked well, until now.

More than half of all phones in New Zealand are believed to be capable of receiving the alerts with that figure rising to 60% since the service was introduced.

UPDATE I: This reporter received the alert at 4.30pm this afternoon.

UPDATE II: The New Zealand Herald is reporting that Civil Defence says the system worked as it is supposed to, however the coverage area chosen for the alert meant people close by but not at risk didn't get notified.



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