By Grant Jacobs 25/11/2017

New Zealanders: if your phone squeals at you sometime between 6 and 7pm tomorrow evening, don’t panic! Tomorrow New Zealand will face it’s first mobile emergency alert test. Compatible phones are listed on the CD website. You don’t have to download an app or subscribe to anything; it’ll just do it’s thing.

Mobile alerts give warning and advice if there are “serious hazards that involve threats to life, health or property” (see FAQ).

Alerts will only be issued by –

  • New Zealand Police
  • Fire and Emergency New Zealand
  • Local Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups
  • The Ministries of:
    • Health
    • Primary Industries
    • Civil Defence & Emergency Management

To ‘get back’ to an alert issued earlier,

  • On Android phones: try looking in the Messages app.
  • For iPhone users: look in your notifications (Swipe down from the top of your screen. Deleting your notifications will also delete the alert.)

Another way to check if your phone might be compatible is to check if there is a notification setting for emergency alerts.*

Damaged cell phone towers or power outages may cause alerts to not work. Fact sheets and guides are available.

A short article introduces in the Otago Daily Times introduces the alerts using a local example.

Feel free to share your responses to the alert in the comments below!

Other articles on Code for life

Regulating GMOs: time to move forward (There is more on this to come – there is a lot to cover!)

Fixing our genes (A series on gene therapy that I want to get back to.)

The mutant PRICKLE and the split brain (Genetics, split brains, a de novo mutation, and Kim Peek.)

Aww, crap (A plant offers a toilet…)

The inheritance of face recognition (should you blame your parents if you can’t recognise faces?) (Prosopagnosia is more common that you might think.)

Public opinion of gene editing and enhancement (What do you think about gene therapy or enhancement?)

What do you want in a science commission? (More input to that already offered by readers is always welcome.)


* Curiously, my iPhone SE isn’t showing the emergency alert notification option. It ought to…

Featured image

A warning sign. The example is a German road sign, but internationally similar signs warn people of impending danger. The image is public domain, taken from wikipedia.


0 Responses to “New Zealanders: Prepare to be alerted”

  • Turns out that MCDEM has a feedback page:

    I’d love to hear how it went. I’m overseas, so didn’t get one, of course.

    Among the feedback on Twitter includes:

    Yeah I was in the shower, can you send it again? Cheers.

    (While they might not have heard, it seems me that the notification should be on their phone.)

    For some it didn’t seem to override silent mode:

    While I received it, there was no sound, my phone was on silent. I expected it to override silent. Also, the alert did not appear on Apple Watch.

    I got a vigorous vibrate but no sound. Seems like in an emergency it should override settings and blast at max volume regardless, no?

    Quite a few report not getting a test alert at all.

    4 iPhones in our house and not a single one got a notification ?

    and many others.

    A few rather loudly (read: somewhat rudely) object to getting them, asking for a way to opt out. (I suspect you can just turn the notifications off on your phone if you feel that way.)

  • It worked on my iPhone 5s but I had to install iOS11. It didn’t work on anyone elses’ assorted Samsungs.

    • That might explain why I don’t see the emergency notifications settings. I’ve got an SE, but I’m still on 10.3.3.

      There are quite a few people saying they didn’t get an alert!

      Maybe we need to get an epidemiologist on this? Use some of those disease models… if enough people get “infected” (heh), will they spread it to the others not exposed? 😀

      • Yes, you have to be on 11. I was putting off changing the OS on the 5s, because, well, it is a 5s. It’s getting a bit old as tech goes. I couldn’t find the emergency alert button under the Notifications setting. Upgraded to 11 and there it was. Right at the bottom of the notification list in settings.

        The noise did disturb the cat’s slumber…

  • Nothing on my Samsung, but friend’s iPhone got it with a crazy vibrate notification that they have never seen before. Very loud BZZZZZZ!