National cellphone emergency alert test scheduled for noon

NL-Alert message
NL-Alert message. (Photo: @Schoentje7 / Twitter)

Everyone in the Netherlands should receive a test NL-Alert message at noon today. NL-Alert is used to give locals information about what is going on during a disaster and what should be done. The intention is that this message system will eventually replace the emergency sirens, which are tested on the first Monday of every month, Metro Nieuws reports. 

These messages all start with the words "NL-Alert", followed by the date, time and nature of the problem. Messages usually also contain instructions on how to proceed. For example: "NL-Alert 03-07-2017 12:00 Large fire in Hoofdstraat with asbestos. Close windows and doors and stay out of smoke."

NL-Alert messages are sent using a cell broadcast - a technique for sending messages to mobile phones trough all providers' transmission towers. This is done anonymously - messages are sent to all mobile phones in the affected area in a similar way as how radio signals are transmitted. Names and telephone numbers aren't necessary for this, according to the government. 

The NL-Alert system is tested twice a year. In principle, the message will be received by most phones automatically. Though there are some models of phones on which software must be installed before NL-Alert messages can be received. If you do not receive a test message, you can go to the NL-Alert site for help with installation.