It’s a smartphone-based air raid alert.
Air Raid Alerts System Into Android
The Ukrainian government has its own air raid warning system. But it runs through a third-party app. So, Google took it upon itself to design and build an Air Raid Alerts system into Android.
“Tragically, millions of people in Ukraine now rely on air strike alerts to try to get to safety. At the request, and with the help, of the government of Ukraine, we’ve started rolling out a rapid Air Raid Alerts system for Android phones in Ukraine. This work is supplemental to the country’s existing air raid alert systems, and based on alerts already being delivered by the Ukrainian government.”
A week ago, the company recommended that users in Ukraine download the third-party app called Air Alarm to receive alerts on their smartphones. A week later, users can start getting the same notifications directly from Android.
XDA Developers spotted the update while they examined the computer code of Google Play Services. An update to Google Play Services contains a text that explains how the alert system works. In the computer code, Google wrote that the users will be notified if there’s an air raid alert. And if the alert is canceled, they also get notified.
Who Will Receive the Alerts?
The system will be using the phone’s approximate location to know who will get the alerts. But Google emphasized that it will not be using the user’s location information in tracking users.
The update seems like it is attached to the wireless emergency alert notifications built into Android phones. It depends on a cellular connection or Wi-FI to notify users about incoming disasters. But users can always turn the alerts off.
For now, Apple has no air raid alert system for iPhones in Ukraine.
This new system is useful to many users because they don’t have to install a separate app to be notified. Thus, if the users rarely use their phones, they can still see the alarm on the Google Play Store.
Emergency Alert System
The alerting notification is vital for most users. Most people are now receiving their news from their cell phones. Thus, having alert notification systems built into the OS enhances the distribution of information.
The current alert system focuses on SMS or push notifications. It works by dispensing information about a crisis. The current emergency alert notifications utilize GPS and geo-located targeting of alerts.
Emergency alerts to smartphones would enable instructions for evacuation and updates on points of interest. The alerts would allow users to access relevant information on first aid and disaster properness. Currently, Android and iOS alert systems can’t send “I’m okay” or “I’m trapped” replies. But they are already available to social networks, like Facebook.
It’s important to note that Google doesn’t detect air raids. Rather, it builds a client for the Ukrainian alert system. The system starts to roll out today. All Android phones in Ukraine will be able to use it.