14 C
New York
Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Buy now


Emergency text alerts in the UK are a bigger signal

Tonhe is british Hours can be spent chatting about mundane topics, from best driving directions to the weather. Lately, bars and coffee shops have been trembling in anticipation of a text message. Mobile phones across the UK will beep for up to 10 seconds at 3pm on April 23 to test the government’s new emergency alert system. In a real crisis, alerts will warn citizens of an imminent threat to life in their area, such as wildfire or flooding, and provide practical guidance (such as “prepare to evacuate” or “don’t open windows”).

Hear this story.
Enjoy more audio and podcasts iOS or android.

Your browser does not support

In countries like the U.S. and South Korea, where daily alerts sound, the idea of ​​government text messages isn’t all that exciting.In Britain, the Test has become a national event, carefully scheduled between the London Marathon and the semi-finals FA cup, a football game. It also shows that the country is rediscovering the value of disaster preparedness.

Over the decades, attention to contingency planning has ebbed and flowed. In a new book, Attack Warning Red! How Britain Prepared for Nuclear War, Julie McDowall writes how women’s volunteering trained housewives to withstand attack in the 1950s. They stirred up a mixture of borax and ammonium sulphate to pour over thatched roofs during fires and encouraged people still on rationing to stock up on veal and sausages. Preparations for sounding the alarm are often slapstick. A pub owner alerted his villagers to the plan to cycle through the streets, shouting “The Russians are coming!”

With the end of the Cold War, tensions subsided until the terrorist attacks of September 11th brought renewed attention to risk assessment and contingency planning. But after the London Olympics, “we probably got a little bit complacent”, said Susan Scholefield, former head of the Civil Contingency Secretariat, the Cabinet Office’s contingency planning division. The pandemic has sent huge jolts: A public inquiry is now considering the shortcomings of Britain’s preparations for covid-19. Climate change, the threat of a no-deal Brexit and a return to war in Europe have also pushed resilience back on the agenda.

A special “resilience framework” was released in December. A new Resilience Council in the Cabinet Office now oversees risk management. National planning has become more rigorous after criticism that pre-pandemic modeling of epidemic risk was not given sufficient attention. When officials were dissatisfied with the results of Operation Mighty Oak, a recent test of what would happen to key agencies in the event of a power outage, they repeated the test.

National Security Risk Assessment (National Security Agency), the classification assessment of the greatest risks facing the country has been completely revised. Now it can draw on information from a magical new Situation Centre, a secret room in Whitehall that coordinates data on the most serious threats.this National Security Agency It will also start measuring some risks over a five-year time frame, rather than two (although this is still not enough to take into account threats such as the collapse of the Thames locks, which all but stopped flooding into London).

The central government cannot prepare for everything: fiscal constraints alone cannot do it. December’s framework promises to strengthen local resilience forums, teams of local government officials and emergency responders who plan their work against the National Risk Register (an unclassified version of the National Risk Register) National Security Agency. It also highlights the importance of engaging companies, voluntary agencies and the public.

Crises are not always the result of sudden events such as solar storms, terrorist attacks or floods.Most really big emergencies are “slow burn” crises that smolder for years without the government really noticing, says Sir David Ormand, the former head of the UK government Government Communications Headquarters, the UK’s signals intelligence agency, and author of a forthcoming book, How to Survive a Crisis. As an example, he points to socioeconomic pressures from rising inequality or rising dissatisfaction among health care workers about pay. Emergency alerts do not help with such problems.

For more expert analysis of the UK’s biggest news, subscribe to Blighty, our weekly subscriber newsletter.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles