Frequent ‘severe’ wireless emergency alerts puzzle phone users in India

They just won’t stop coming. After multiple instances in the past about purported “testing” of wireless emergency alerts from a “Pan-India Emergency Alert System,” phone users across multiple regions in India have reported seeing a new alert once again. The alert was sent out at 12:19 PM IST and was accompanied by a beeping sound.

The intent behind these notifications, as sent out by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), is to notify citizens of natural disasters such as monsoon-induced floods. Considering how handy people keep their smartphones, the alerts can serve as an excellent way to notify people about potential disasters. However, the frequency with which the DoT has been deploying test alerts has left people perplexed.

Following the latest alert, X (formerly Twitter) was flooded by posts from users seeking an explanation for the alert. Considering these alerts start with an ominous “Emergency Alert: Severe,” they can be unnerving, especially for people who’ve received it for the first time.

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Government entities employ wireless emergency alert technology, a feature enabled by default on both Android and iOS devices, to deliver instant critical to citizens. The main function of this service is to serve as a lifeline during crises, ensuring that people remain informed and safe.

Some people have reportedly received multiple of these alerts over the past few months, raising concerns about the diminishing impact of these alerts when a genuine emergency arises.

If you are one of the users who’d rather not see these alerts every now and then, then there is actually a way to disable them, which we’ve described in a previous article. Nevertheless, it is advisable to keep these alerts active to guarantee essential updates from relevant authorities in the event of real disasters.

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