This is a test of the emergency management system

The texts came through at 1.30am

New Zealand wakes this morning a nation divided into those that received the 1:30am Civil Defence emergency alert and those who did not.

Civil Defence has apologised after test messages were mistakenly sent to thousands of New Zealanders in the dead of night, waking some and causing no small amount of mirth on social media this morning.

Those who received the test messages, part of Civil Defence's planned smartphone alerting system which is due to go live at the end of the year, appear to be a disparate group of recipients chosen either for their ability to lead the nation through times of difficulty or perhaps a random selection based on phone numbers pulled together by an overworked tech.

Either way, this reporter is pleased to … report that he will be among the Chosen and will be able to communicate important key messages to those who survive any major event.

Of course, this reporter also keeps his phone far away from his bed because of long experience receiving emergency text alerts and so will probably sleep through the whole thing.

Civil Defence has been tasked with building a more effective communication network following the mass adoption of smartphones. In bygone days, emergency alerts would typically be sent over the radio or involve police cars driving slowly along the street with a PA announcement blasting out. The test was mistakenly sent by a team working on European time, once again demonstrating the importance of local development, if only for our sleep patterns.

And while we're all in a civil defence kind of mood, it's worth revisiting your own preparedness for any event. Civil Defence has a handy website complete with a checklist of items any well-organised Kiwi will need to survive until help arrives. Oddly, the checklist does not include smartphone or battery pack.

Paul Brislen is the editor of Techblog for the Insitute of IT Professionals


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Vodafone has just released the following media statement (2degrees says it wasn't affected. NBR is waiting to hear from Spark but Vodafone says it believes it was the only telco "primarily affected" by the glitch):

Vodafone Media Statement
04/10/2017

Emergency Alert TXT message, sent by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM)

Last night at approximately 1:30am many of our customers received an Emergency Alert TXT message in error from the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.

It is important to clarify the Ministry takes full responsibility for sending this error TXT message. It was accidentally initiated by one of the Ministry’s overseas technology suppliers, and not Vodafone or any of the other ISPs involved in the project.

The test TXT message was sent to the public in error when it was supposed to be restricted to a contained environment. The end result is that many New Zealanders were woken from their sleep between 1.30am and 2am.

Vodafone acknowledges the Ministry’s efforts to explain the error and apologise to our customers.  We will continue working with the industry and the Ministry of Civil Defence to ready the alert system before the end of the year. The system is known as Emergency Mobile Alerts.

Once it is up and running, this will be a potentially lifesaving alert system that will send text alerts to mobile phones that are Cell Broadcast enabled. It will provide another important tool to help Kiwis stay safe during emergencies.

ENDS.

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And from Civil Defence:

We apologise to those who have received test emergency alerts in the early hours of 4 October 2017.

The three test messages were sent in error by our European-based service provider while testing the new Emergency Mobile Alert technology.

Although the messages were only sent to Vodafone customers, the error was not Vodafone’s. We take full responsibility and are working with our European-based service provider to ensure this mistake does not happen again.

We apologise again to all those affected and will ensure all future testing is carried out during daylight hours.

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Woken up this morning at 1:30 and then once again just as we got back to sleep. The missus isn't a deep sleeper so the second one meant that was it for the night's sleep for her.

On the upside I got a fry up for breakfast at 5:30 this morning, and also know how to turn off emergency broadcasts on my phone. Hopefully the downside of no longer receiving emergency broadcasts doesn't occur!

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I was in San Francisco last week nice warm weather not overly hot. Started getting text messages at 7.30 am on the Emergency Texting thingy about Extreme Hot Weather in San Fran warning to stay hydrated and check on neighbours, I had 8 of them as did my wife and the couple we were travelling with by the time we flew that night, the last one was after dark in the cool of the night, totally OTT and talk about crying wolf, think the system is a great idea but easily abused and people will start to ignore it, hope they are careful who has access to it.

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All this did was prompt me to go into the bowels of my phone to turn off the emergency broadcast capability (assuming that these messages can't over-ride such settings?)

I guess I will find out one morning in the future the next time there is a rogue test...As an aside I wonder what the behavioural impact of these alerts actually is?

I registered that I had received an emergency broadcast but all I did was turn it off so I could go back to sleep. Hardly reassuring in my case that I would take action in a real emergency at 1.30am... So unlike you Chris I probably wasn't one of the "Chosen" to lead the startled masses to safety and instead just a genuine case of mistaken identity...

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Correction - to join you Paul as one of the chosen.

Although I am sure Chris would make the cut too!

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My wife is with 2 Degrees and did get one.

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Retraction - I was wrong - she is with Vodafone now, I forgot she had changed networks and kept the 022 number, sorry.

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Well there's something that I never thought I would read on here. A person admitting that they were wrong.
Should have you stuffed for posterity.

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Just a comment. I’m a Vodafone user from the U K and visiting NZ at the time of the alerts. I too was woken in the night by this series of alerts so as an update it could have affected any Vodafone user who happened to be in the country at the time. Didn’t affect my wife’s phone (which was also on a Vodafone contract) although hers was on aeroplane mode at the time.

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What's the bet when there's a real emergency it won't work. No doubt followed by an apology from civil defense, saying it won't happen again.

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