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Nationwide test of Emergency Mobile Alert

A nationwide test of Emergency Mobile Alert took place on 26 November 2017.

Why there was a test of Emergency Mobile Alert

Testing is a necessary part of making sure the Emergency Mobile Alert system works well.

The nationwide test was sent to cell towers all over New Zealand and we expect approximately two million phones were capable of receiving the alert.

The test allowed us to evaluate the system, cell towers and your phone’s ability to receive the alert.

We’ve already received thousands of feedback submissions from people which will help us evaluate and improve the Emergency Mobile Alert system.

If you’d like to give us feedback about Emergency Mobile Alert, feel free to complete our Emergency Mobile Alert feedback form.

Why some capable phones did not receive the test alert

We are investigating the various reasons phones did not receive the alerts. Common issues we’ve identified so far include:

  • The phone’s operating system was not on the required operating system, or the latest version. Make sure your phone’s software is up to date.
  • The alert was received but not easy to find. On iPhones, the alert was often kept in the notifications panel, which and can be viewed by swiping down from the top of the screen.

Thank you to everyone who has submitted feedback via our form. The information you have provided will be very useful for identifying areas for improvement.

Why some phones received an alert multiple times

The nationwide test was broadcast on 3G and 4G from approximately 6.15 pm to 7 pm. If your phone moved from 3G to 4G during this time, you will have received an alert from both networks. The same thing would have happened if you turned flight mode on and off, or turned your phone off and back on during the test broadcast period.

Some phones had an optional alert reminder feature turned on. This caused the phone to alarm repeatedly during the broadcast. If your phone has an alert reminder, it is found within the Wireless Alerts/Broadcast Alerts/Emergency Alerts settings – any of these names may be used.

Why alerts “disappeared” on iPhone

Some users have reported that the alert disappeared when they tried to view it. On iPhones, the alert is kept in the notifications panel which and can be viewed by swiping down from the top of the screen. We’re investigating if this can be made more intuitive.

Why some alerts said “presidential alert”

The Emergency Mobile Alert system uses an international standard and the broadcast channel we use is often called “Presidential Alert” overseas.

We have worked with the phone manufacturers and New Zealand mobile network operators to use the term “Emergency Alert” instead. However, some phones pre-dating this, or bought overseas, will use the American international standard and will display “Presidential Alert”.

Cover of Survey ReportEmergency Mobile Alert – independent survey results

Following the 26 November 2017 nationwide live test of the Emergency Mobile Alert system, an independent survey was commissioned by MCDEM.

1000 mobile phone users were surveyed nationwide to gauge the level of penetration of the test alert, people’s awareness of and attitudes towards the system, and to identify any demographic variances. The survey was undertaken by Colmar Brunton Research and is attached.

Overall, the survey findings show that the test met expectations, and that the public has a favourable view of the new system.

Read the Emergency Mobile Alert Survey Report - Dec 2017 (PDF 3.4mb)