Foreign Office trials crisis text messaging service

The Foreign Office has set up a trial service with mobile phone network Vodafone to deliver emergency text messages to travellers.

The text will be sent out to customers who are in a country where there has been a major crisis – such as a natural disaster or civil unrest.

The service will be available to customers of Vodafone itself, Asda Mobile, Lebara Mobile, Talkmobile, Talk Talk, BT Mobile, Gamma Telecom and Cognatel.

The service is free to customers of the mobile providers taking part in the trial and will provide essential advice in the event of a crisis. The Foreign Office will pilot this service for a year.

Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne said: 

“The recent crises in Libya and Japan have demonstrated the need to deliver live travel safety messages to as many people as quickly as possible.

“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.

“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 text messaging pilot will not replace any existing services and information provided in the texts will continue to be provided on the Foreign Office website, and the FCO Travel Facebook and Twitter channels.