The City of London Police force has upgraded its Priority Alert real time emergency communication system to allow voice messages and maps to be sent to local businesses and schools if a major incident occurs.

The Warn and Inform system from communications vendor Vocal allows the police to send emergency advice and information to local organisations. It was used to send 225,000 messages in the aftermath of the July 2005 bomb attacks in London.

Around 1,500 businesses in the capital subscribe to the system, allowing them to receive the alerts and emergency advice.

The new upgrade adds voice messaging to the system, which can also be used to send emails, SMS text or pager alerts. The upgrade also enables the system to send maps, detailing road closures or restricted areas in the event of an emergency, such as a bomb warning, fire, flood or other major incident.

City of London Police commissioner Mike Bowron said: “Protecting lives is our number one priority in an incident. The Warn and Inform system saves valuable minutes, even seconds in communicating that there is a security threat. It is already part of the emergency and evacuation plans of a large number of London companies. I have no doubt, one day, the system could save lives.”

The Warn and Inform system is already used by local authorities in Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Liverpool, Nottingham, Bristol and Leeds.