On the evening of Sunday 23 April, the UK will echo with the sound of warning sirens. The Government will be testing its new smartphone Emergency Alert, popularly known as the ‘Armageddon Alert’.
The home delivery expert ParcelHero says the new alarm system will undoubtedly save lives in the future, when used to warn of extreme weather events, terrorist acts or fires. However, it cautions the alert’s mass testing on all 4G and 5G networks early on a Sunday evening could lead to disruption and failed transactions. Many people who are glued to their Amazon and eBay apps, or using PayPal or Apple Pay to purchase items, will find their phones freeze for the alert.
ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., said, ‘ParcelHero is sounding the alarm for shoppers. When the Government’s Emergency Alert test activates on our mobile phones and tablets, everyone will have to acknowledge the warning to regain access to their device’s features.
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“A message will appear on home screens, with vibrations and a loud warning siren that will sound for about 10 seconds, even if the phone is set to silent. That’s certainly going to be alarming if you have just pressed “Buy Now.”
‘Mobile phone masts will broadcast the alert and every compatible mobile phone and tablet in range of a mast will freeze and show the message. Phones and pads don’t even have to be connected to mobile data or Wi-Fi to get the alert.
‘That means there’s little way of avoiding the impact of this test. That’s bad news for people gaming, shopping and banking on their devices as the alert is broadcast.
‘We also anticipate issues immediately after people receive the test, as many of us race to share our experience by calling, texting or using WhatsApp. When multiple devices all try to use the same network, overcrowding occurs as they compete to connect. This means low quality or buffering during streaming, latency during gaming, and frustratingly slow browsing speeds.
‘Whether you are planning to buy trainers, book a parcel pickup or pay a bill on the evening of 23 April, we recommend waiting for a few minutes after you have received and dismissed the alert before using your mobile devices. However, if you do get caught out, don’t panic. Just check your recent transactions on your payment or banking apps and look to see if you have safely received a purchase confirmation email.
‘The alert will certainly be disruptive. As well as the distinctive siren sound, a message on your mobile or tablet’s screen will say:
“This is a test of Emergency Alerts, a new UK government service that will warn you if there’s a life-threatening emergency nearby.
In an actual emergency, follow the instructions in the alert to keep yourself and others safe.
Visit gov.uk/alerts for more information.
This is a test. You do not need to take any action.”
‘You’ll then need to dismiss the message, before you can regain functionality.
‘If you really must shop, there is a simple hack that means your phone won’t receive the alert. Search your settings for “emergency alerts” (these are in Notifications on an iPhone). Then select turn off “severe alerts” and “extreme alerts”. However, we don’t recommend this as the alert could save your life in the future.
‘The Emergency Alert test is likely to disrupt e-commerce. However, in general, new technologies are making consumers’ lives easier and deliveries quicker.’