It has been announced that the UK are to begin trialling a new form of public emergency warning system. According to the BBC (report can be found here), the government will carry out tests with public to determine whether to move forward with the scheme.
The idea is that some form of message is sent to mobile users in a geographic area that is affected by an emergency. Such scenarios could include severe weather warnings, pandemics or attacks on the national infrastructure. It could be delivered either by text or through a system called “cell broadcasting”. The latter option is its own dedicated network that is separate which is appealing for such a scenario.
There are concerns that hackers could target people if it is just through ordinary text messages but government officials insist that they
will be vigilant for any sign of abuse in the trial.
A report is due in early 2014.
Personally I am all for it. I’ve seen it used here in the US when Hurricane Sandy hit and it was very useful. The fact it is used sparingly and has a very distinctive tone makes sure that people take notice. Whilst hackers are always going to be a concern, I see very little downsides to this and look forward to seeing the results of the trial. Public safety and the preservation of life should always be the top priority.