Glasgow emergency text alert tests begin

Testing of a new text messaging system which alerts members of the public to emergencies has started in Glasgow.

Three different test messages are being sent to O2 customers in a small area of the city from 14:00 on Thursday.

The messages will make it clear they are part of a trial. Those who receive them do not need to take any action but are encouraged to complete an online survey or take part in focus groups.

The trial is being run by the mobile operator and Glasgow City Council.

The exercise, along with others in Yorkshire and Suffolk, is part of wider UK tests being conducted by the Cabinet Office.

‘Accurate information’

They are intended to examine how various alerting technologies work and the public’s reaction to them.

Annemarie O’Donnell, executive director of corporate services at Glasgow City Council, said: “The council has a legal duty to have systems in place to allow us to communicate with people in the city in the event of an emergency.

“We already have many different methods of communication, including the council’s Twitter feed, which has more than 35,000 followers.

“However, being able to send messages directly to mobile phones in a specific geographic area would be an added bonus and would allow us to communicate with large numbers of people, including those who may only be passing through the city.”

Ms O’Donnell said that being able to send “timely, accurate information in the event of an emergency” would help councils and the emergency services deal with major incidents.

Billy Darcy, public sector managing director at O2, said: “We believe mobile technology can play a vital and effective role in the simultaneous mass communication of emergency messages to the public, should the need ever arise.

“We look forward to assessing the results of the trial, once it is completed, and agreeing the next steps with the government.”

People receiving test text messages can email the cabinet office to take part in focus groups or take part in an online survey.