The government is to begin testing an alert system for floods, industrial accidents and other hazards that uses text messages sent directly to people in affected areas.
Over the next three months, three pilots will take place in Easingwold in North Yorkshire, Leiston in Suffolk and Glasgow city centre. The text messages will be marked as a test and will ask recipients to provide feedback.
The government will test two methods of delivering the alerts: One using a conventional text message, which experts fear could be open to fraud, and a second using 'cell broadcast messages' that can only be sent by mobile operators.
Other countries already use the text alert system. In some states in the US they are used for missing children and prison escapes, while Japan and Chile use them to warn of natural disasters.