Nationwide test of Emergency Mobile Alert system 23 November 2018 A nationwide test of the Emergency Mobile Alert system will be happening this weekend on Sunday 25 November between 6pm and 7pm. The alert is a vital way to keep our communities safe in an emergency, and it’s particularly important in the Coromandel given our diverse terrain. Sarah Stuart-Black, Director of the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, says annual tests of the system will help to ensure that it is working effectively, while helping to familiarise the public with what to expect and how it works. “By running this test and asking people to be aware of the alerts, we are able to test our systems, the cell towers and your phone’s ability to receive an Emergency Mobile Alert,” says Mrs Stuart-Black. “This is just a test, but when emergencies happen, Emergency Mobile Alert will be a vital channel to help keep our communities safe. “Not all phones are currently capable of receiving the alerts, so we need people to look after each other: if you receive an alert, tell your neighbours, your whanau, your colleagues," she says. A nationwide campaign is underway, letting people know about the test and where to find out more information. The system, which was launched last year with the first nationwide test alert, has been well received, with around three in four New Zealanders expressing confidence in the system. “The system brings some real benefits - we can geographically target areas, you don’t need to download an app, we don’t need your personal details, and it doesn’t get affected by network congestion," says Mrs Stuart-Black. “Last year’s nationwide test was not only invaluable in spreading awareness of the system, but also in highlighting issues with some handsets, so we could work through them with the manufacturers," she says. “We are aware that quite a number of people in the Coromandel didn’t receive the alert last year, so we are interested to get feedback in order evaluate its effectiveness, especially as we have such diverse terrain over the Peninsula,” says Garry Towler, our Civil Defence Controller. “We are in for a busy summer with a mixed weather forecast. Now is a good time to check your resources at home, in your car and at the bach should we find ourselves isolated like we did in January. Ensure you are able to take care of yourself, family and friends for a few days until we can get to you,” says Mr Towler. The test alert message will contain a link to the Civil Defence website, where recipients will be able to fill in a survey that will help to inform further improvements to the system. It is expected that around half of all phones will be able to receive alerts, compared to around one-third when the system was launched at this time last year. You can check whether your phone can receive the alert here. Mrs Stuart-Black says Emergency Mobile Alert is an additional channel to help keep New Zealand safe in an emergency and does not replace other information channels such as radio, websites and social media, or the need to take action after natural warnings. “If you feel your life may be in danger, don’t wait for an official warning. Take immediate action. For example in local-source tsunami, there may not be time to send an alert before the first waves strike. Please recognise the natural warnings - long or strong, get gone”. For more information on how to be prepared click here or to learn more about Emergency Mobile Alert, visit www.civildefence.govt.nz. Airbnb agreement to unlock emergency accommodation nationwide The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbnb for the provision of accommodation to people displaced as a result of an emergency, and the distribution of preparedness and response materials. “Emergencies such as floods, fires and earthquakes often result in people needing to leave their homes, not knowing when they will be able to return. While most people stay with friends and family, not everybody has that option, and we need to ensure everyone has somewhere safe and comfortable to stay,” says MCDEM Director, Sarah Stuart-Black. Mrs Stuart-Black says the agreement will help to supplement existing emergency accommodation arrangements, particularly in large scale disasters and evacuations. Click here to read more.