Phones to buzz and blare ten-second siren in emergency alert test

Devices will vibrate and sound a high-pitched signal next month to ensure the warning system is operational.

Sirens are set to sound from mobile phones across Scotland next month as part of a UK Government pilot of a new emergency alert system.

Handsets will vibrate, display notifications and blare a ten-second burst of high-pitched noise on April 23 to test the protocol – even if devices are set to silent mode.

The alert – which is modelled on similar systems in Canada, Netherlands and the United States – is intended to be used in life-threatening situations including flooding and wildfires.

They will initially focus on the most serious severe weather-related events, with the ability to get a message to 90% of mobile users within the relevant area in an emergency.

Users will be able to opt-out in their settings after the test.

Justice secretary and lead minister for resilience Keith Brown said: “This new service builds on the arrangements we already have in place with responders and other key organisations in Scotland to keep people safe during emergencies and save lives.

“The system has already been used successfully overseas in other countries where it has been credited with saving lives during severe weather events and earthquakes.

“During rare events where there is an imminent risk to life, alerts can be sent direct to people’s mobile phones with clear instructions explaining what action to take and how to seek help.”

The alerts are secure, free to receive, one-way and do not reveal anyone’s location or collect personal data, the UK Government said.

It could eventually be expanded to cover terrorist incidents.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden, said: “We are strengthening our national resilience with a new emergency alerts system, to deal with a wide range of threats – from flooding to wildfires.

“It will revolutionise our ability to warn and inform people who are in immediate danger, and help us keep people safe.

“As we’ve seen in the US and elsewhere, the buzz of a phone can save a life.”

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