Emergency Alert System Testing

Published: March 28, 2023


Scottish Government is participating in a 3 month trial of a new UK Government Emergency Alert system, launching on Sunday 19th March 2023.

What Is It?

The system, which is fully funded by UK Government, uses the mobile phone network to broadcast an urgent message to all compatible handsets in a geographical area where there is an emergency incident to help save lives.

The messages themselves will contain information about the incident and how to respond to reduce the threat to life. Audible alerts will be received even where a device is switched to silent.

The government does not need to know your phone number or location to send you an alert.

When Will Testing Take Place?

The first national test will take place on Sunday 23rd April 2023. This test will ensure the technology operates as intended, and alert messages are received by all compatible handsets.

When Will I Receive an Alert?

With the exception of the test message during the 3 month trial period, it is anticipated that the service will only be used in Scotland to warn about a life-threatening emergency caused by severe weather. Messages will provide key information so people can take action to avoid harm.

This service will enable people to be contacted via their mobile phone if their lives are at risk in an emergency. It will be used to send a direct message only where there is a risk to life, either locally or nationally.

What Happens During an Emergency Alert?

During an emergency alert, your phone or tablet may:

  • make a loud siren-like noise, even if on silent
  • vibrate
  • read out the alert

The sound and vibration will last for about 10 seconds. For those with a vision or hearing impairment, audio and vibration attention signals will let them know if they have an emergency alert.

Further Information

For further information, please view or download the official guidance as a pdf (linked for your convenience).

Alternatively, visit the Scottish Government marketing resource centre (which includes information videos and promotional toolkits).

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