Prizes Mark Emergency Text Alert Milestone

2 November 2011

Wellington's disaster-readiness is about to pass an important milestone - with the 5,000th Wellingtonian expected to sign up to the city's mobile phone Emergency Text Alert system in the next few days.

To celebrate this milestone, Wellington City Council is giving away five Grab&Go emergency kits to the first five Twitter followers past the 5,000 mark.

The kits include a backpack, dynamo torch / radio / phone charger, medical kit and other key emergency items.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the signing on of 5,000 followers in just over a year is a real achievement, meaning more Wellingtonians will be better prepared for a tsunami or some other emergency.

She says the Council's Wellington Emergency Management Office (WEMO) has more phone-text and Facebook followers than any other city's emergency management office in the southern hemisphere. "It's great to see how Wellingtonians are embracing new technology to deliver potentially life-saving information."

WEMO's Twitter-based Emergency Text Alert system warns people about a major emergency like an approaching tsunami. WEMO's last alert was on 22 October about a tsunami threat stemming from an earthquake near the Kermadec Islands.

The City Council's Emergency Preparedness Senior Advisor, Dan Neely, says signing up to receive the alerts is easy to do and it could ultimately save lives.

"The ability to deliver timely warnings and alerts through mobile phones is an important step to help ensure Wellingtonians have the information they need to protect themselves and their families prior to, and during, disasters and other emergencies.

"The service is free, but signing up costs four texts at the standard rate. We will send you three to four test messages a year and any other message will be a genuine alert."

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown is encouraging users to promote WEMO's Twitter and Facebook page on their own social media pages.

"We are tapping into social media as a way of spreading the message far and wide. Five thousand text followers is a good start but we want all Wellingtonians signed up. It is all about preparedness and to be forewarned is to be forearmed."

Mayor Wade-Brown adds that "technology doesn't replace physical warnings. If you feel a quake last more than a minute or you can't stand up, get to higher ground immediately."

Emergency alerts on your mobile

You can sign up to receive WEMO alerts direct to your mobile phone and be warned about any big emergency - like a tsunami.

Emergency Text Alerts are free (but sign-up costs you four texts at your standard rate).

You'll get two or three 'test' messages a year. Any other message will be a real alert.

The Emergency Text Alerts do not currently work on mobile phones using the 2degrees network.

If you receive an Emergency Text Alert, forward it to your networks; re-tweet the message if you're on Twitter.

Signing up

Wait for a reply after each text sent. If you already receive tweets to your mobile phone, go to step 5.

  1. Text the word 'start' to 8987.
  2. Reply with the word 'signup'.
  3. Think of a unique username. (You won't need to remember it again, so you could use your name followed by some random characters, eg 'Kelly495hgim'.)
  4. Reply with your chosen username (if you are already on Twitter, use your existing username and it will ask you for your password).
  5. Send / reply 'follow wemonz' to 8987.