Why I've Deactivated Emergency Alerts on my iPhone
So when the news came out that US carriers would be pushing updates to smartphones to enable the sending of emergency alerts, many people made a big stink about the government keeping themselves out of a device they had purchased. Many people felt that this was some kind of infringement on their rights. Others were quick to point out that you could opt out of these alerts (with the exception of presidential alerts which have not been used in like 30 years or more).
My initial reaction was to shrug my shoulders and say "big deal". In fact, being a father, I thought having the "AMBER alerts" would be a good thing to really help with finding kidnapped children. Certainly having an alert go off on the cell phones of every shopper in a mall or amusement park can be more effective than notifying drivers on the highway via electronic signs.
I also thought it might be useful in places like Tornado Alley to warn people of impending twisters. It could certainly save some lives.
What I did not realize about iPhone (and likely other phones) that Government Alerts would actually render themselves useless to me by forcing me to shut them off. Why do you ask?
- The alert sound is incredibly loud and annoying
- The alerts ignore "Do Not Disturb" settings -- which might be useful if a Tornado is coming, but really annoying if you are at home in bed at 2am and receive a "Flash Flood" warning or an "AMBER alert". If you are not out on the road or out in public, neither of these warnings are of use to you.
- The alerts are too frequent and repetitive. If I get a Flash Flood warning at 2pm on Friday telling me that warnings are in affect for the entire weekend, then I don't need two more alerts on Saturday and one more on Sunday.
After a week of being woken up in the middle of the night, having my phone scare the crap out of me with its loud sound repeatedly, and getting warnings that are of absolutely no use to me (I already know how to avoid Flash Flood areas when there are storm clouds in the sky), I have shut off "Emergency Alerts". If I go traveling and visit a city in Tornado Alley, I might flip them back on.
Right now I only have AMBER alerts activated, though I have heard that most of Manhattan was awakened at 4am recently to an AMBER alert. I'm betting that 99% of those people were not in a position to help track down the missing child and those people likely had "Do Not Disturb" turned on for their phones at that hour. As a father, I am leaving AMBER alerts activated for the moment. However, when it comes to the Emergency alerts, I am going to take my chances.