The UK Foreign Office has launched a trial service with Vodafone to deliver emergency text messages to customers when they’re abroad. This service will be available to Vodafone UK subscribers and to customers on Vodafone-based virtual networks, including those using Asda Mobile, Lebara Mobile, Talkmobile, Talk Talk, BT Mobile, Gamma Telecom and Cognatel.
Customers in a country where there has been a major crisis - such as a natural disaster or civil unrest - will automatically receive an SMS message. The service is free and will run as a trial for the next twelve months.
Jeremy Browne MP, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, said “The recent consular crises in Libya and Japan have demonstrated the need to deliver live travel safety messages to as many people as quickly as possible. This new service is part of our vision to deliver better consular services more cost-effectively and we’re delighted to be working with Vodafone UK and a number of partners on the pilot. We hope in the future we will be able to roll out this service with other mobile network operators and mobile providers. The pilot is part of the Foreign Office’s commitment to improve consular services. We will soon have the ability to send text messages to all affected British Nationals registered on our crisis database. As well as this we’re also exploring delivering important information through a range of mobile and online tools, including Smartphone apps, a travel advice site for mobile phones and making effective use of social media and digital tools.”
The FCO already provides information on its own website as well as via Facebook and Twitter.