Principal Resilience Minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Kit Malthouse MP, announced new measures to boost the UK’s resilience during a visit to the Met Office yesterday (Monday August 15).
Minister Malthouse visited the Met Office, based in Exeter, to see how their forecasting expertise feeds into government planning to tackle severe weather and how the agency has worked closely with the government and other partners to give people many warnings and advice on safety in the recent extreme heat.
The Minister announced the launch of a new public emergency text alert system for the UK, along with changes to the Civil Contingencies Secretariat – the Cabinet Office’s emergency planning and response team .
Speaking at the Met Office Operations Centre, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Kit Malthouse MP, said:
“To ensure the government continues to provide the best possible prevention and protection against threats, we are disrupting the way we prepare for and respond to emergencies, building on the effective resilience capacity we already have in place.
“We will be launching a new public emergency alert system in the fall that will focus on severe weather, revolutionizing our ability to ‘warn and inform’ people who are in significant and immediate danger. These alerts will be sent directly to people’s mobiles giving details of the emergency – such as local flooding – explaining what to do and how to seek help.
“Our vital COBR unit – which leads the government’s response to acute national and international emergencies – will be bolstered by a dedicated team to help protect us from harm in the future. This National Resilience Framework team will take a deeper look at our approach to risk and how we mitigate it and help us make huge strides in collecting, analyzing and using live data.
Ian Cameron, Director of Markets at the Met Office, commented:
“The right message helps people take action to stay safe. It is clear that we are seeing an increase in the number of extreme weather events in the UK and overseas. This summer alone we have seen temperatures in the UK exceed 40C for the first time, closely followed by the heat wave which ended earlier this week.Communicating effectively is imperative so that we can warn and alert people, ensuring that they are aware and have more time to act and take care of themselves, their friends and their family.
Minister Malthouse spoke to various staff at the Met Office to find out more about their work, from meteorologists who lead weather forecasting to the space weather operations team who are part of just one of the three forecast centers global space weather, monitor potentially disruptive solar activity for government and industry.
The emergency alert system, which will focus on events such as severe weather and warn the public of life-threatening conditions, will be launched in the fall following a public awareness campaign. The free message will give details of the emergency – local floods or wildfires, for example – what to do and how to call for help, and will relay urgent messages to over 85% of cell phones in affected areas.
Changes to the Civil Contingencies Secretariat – the Cabinet Office’s emergency planning and response team – will see a COBR unit continue to lead the Government’s response to acute emergencies, and work on longer-term planning directed by a separate team dedicated to strengthening the underlying structure of UK resilience. This Planning and Analysis Secretariat’s National Resilience Framework team will take a closer look at the government’s approach to risk and how it is mitigated, as well as live data collection and analysis to improve future responses to emergencies.