A mobile phone alert service to make travellers aware of crisis situations abroad is being trialled by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The emergency text messaging service is being piloted for a year with Vodafone UK subscribers as well as users of any mobile provider whose service runs on Vodafone’s network.
Texts will be sent out to travellers who are in a country where there has been a major crisis – such as a natural disaster or civil unrest.
The service is free to customers of the mobile providers taking part in the trial and will provide “essential advice” in the event of a crisis, according to the FCO.
The mobile providers taking part in this trial are Vodafone UK, Asda Mobile, Lebara Mobile, Talkmobile, Talk Talk, BT Mobile, Gamma Telecom and Cognatel.
Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne said: “The recent consular crises in Egypt, Libya and Japan have demonstrated the need to deliver live travel safety messages to as many people as quickly as possible.
“This new service is part of our vision to deliver better consular services more cost-effectively and we’re delighted to be working with Vodafone UK and a number of partners on the pilot.
“We hope in the future we will be able to roll out this service with other mobile network operators and mobile providers.”
He added: “The pilot is part of the Foreign Office’s commitment to improve consular services.
“We will soon have the ability to send text messages to all affected British nationals registered on our crisis database.
“As well as this we’re also exploring delivering important information through a range of mobile and online tools, including smartphone apps, a travel advice site for mobile phones and making effective use of social media and digital tools.”
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