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Cell emergency alert system on its way

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/03/2017

<span style="font-size:13px;">Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says a national emergency alert system is on track to be operational by the end of the year.</span> © Getty Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says a national emergency alert system is on track to be operational by the end of the year. Emergency alerts to cell phones nationwide will be operational by the end of the year, Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says.

The alerts, which will appear similar to a text message without the need for a separate app or subscription, will be sent free to phones in affected areas in an emergency.

"Discussions with New Zealand's major telecommunications companies are progressing well and we expect to have contracts signed in the coming weeks," Mr Brownlee announced on Tuesday.

"Once the cell broadcasting alerting system is up and running, an alert will be sent out to mobile phones through the cell towers in the affected areas in the event of an emergency."

Mr Brownlee said because no technology is failsafe, the government would continue to use radio, television, websites, social media, smartphone apps and sirens to alert locals to danger.

He has also urged people to continue to pay attention to "natural warnings" in the event of an earthquake and potential tsunami.

The national disaster alert system became an issue after the Kaikoura earthquake in November, when there were delays for some residents in receiving tsunami warnings.

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