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Nationwide Emergency Mobile Alert 2019 test

Published: 21 November 2019

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UPDATE 16 November 2020 | Please note, this story relates to the 2019 annual Emergency Mobile Alert test. The 2020 test has been cancelled, in consideration of the current COVID-19 pandemic situation. To find out more about the  Emergency Mobile Alert system and this year's cancellation, visit the National Emergency Management Agency's website.  


A nationwide test of the Emergency Mobile Alert will take place on Sunday 24 November 2019, between 6pm and 7pm.  

The test alert will be sent by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.

Acting Auckland Emergency Management General Manager Sarah Sinclair encourages Aucklanders to pay attention to this weekend’s test.

“In an emergency situation there are so many unknowns – like where you’ll be or how telecommunications might be affected – so being familiar with as many different ways to stay informed is important,” she says.

“This weekend’s national test is a great opportunity to talk to friends and family about your emergency plan and to get familiar with your phone’s alerting capabilities.”

In preparation for this weekend’s Emergency Mobile Alert, Aucklanders should think about how they might stay informed during an emergency.

An alert was sent out by Fire and Emergency New Zealand during the recent fire in Auckland’s city centre. Response agencies used a useful feature of the alerting tool that ringfences an area to receive the message and defines the time it is active.

“It didn’t make sense for people in Orewa or Pukekohe to be receiving advice on the fire or smoke, so the central city and neighbouring suburbs were targeted specifically,” Sarah says.

“By including the right cell towers in the alerting area, and setting a time frame for sending the alert, anyone that comes into the area will receive the message when their mobile phone ‘pings’ the nearby tower.”

What is Emergency Mobile Alert?

Emergency Mobile Alerts are messages about emergencies sent by authorised emergency agencies to capable mobile phones. The alerts are designed to keep people safe and are broadcast to all capable phones from targeted cell towers.

The alerts can be targeted to areas affected by serious hazards and will only be sent when there is a serious threat to life, health, or property, and in some cases for test purposes.

If you get an alert, read the message and take it seriously. It will tell you what the emergency is and what to do. It will also tell you which agency sent the message and if needed, where to go for more information.

When have Emergency Mobile Alerts been used in Auckland?

Emergency Mobile Alerts have been issued three times recently to targeted areas in Auckland.

The first of these was issued by Fire and Emergency NZ on 7 October 2019 at 7.30pm to residents in Henderson following an ammonia leak at a mussel distribution factory.

The second and third alerts were issued during the recent International Convention Centre Fire in Auckland’s central city.

Alerts were issued to residents in the CBD on Tuesday 22 October at 6pm by Fire and Emergency NZ and on Wednesday 23 October at 3pm by Auckland Emergency Management.

Is your phone compatible?

Tests like this are an essential part of making sure the Emergency Mobile Alert system works well.

The nationwide test is sent to cell towers all over New Zealand and the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management expects approximately three million phones are capable of receiving the alert.

Visit this website to find out if your phone is capable of receiving the Emergency Mobile Alert:

Emergency Mobile Alert capable phones

Other ways to stay informed

It’s important to know the different ways that you can stay informed during an emergency.

  • Radio - In an emergency, listening to the radio can be another useful source of getting information. This link provides details of the radio stations that will broadcast emergency information: https://getthru.govt.nz/radio-stations-to-listen-to

  • Online – In an emergency, checking Auckland Emergency Managements website, facebook and twitter pages will help provide you with the most up to date information.

  • Neighbours – Get to know your neighbours and your community before an emergency happens so that when it does, you can help each other out.

  • Useful Apps – Download the Red Cross Hazards app to keep up with the most up to date information about hazards in New Zealand.

If you'd like information about upcoming nationwide tests, please email emergency.management@dpmc.govt.nz 

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