Are You Ready for 'Alert Ready' on your Smartphone?
This April 2018, all Canadian wireless service providers will be required to broadcast emergency alerts directly to WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) compatible, wireless devices through the 'Alert Ready' system. It was designed to deliver critical and potentially life-saving emergency messages to Canadians -issued by federal, provincial and territorial governments and emergency management officials to warn the public of urgent, impending threats.
In the case of emergencies such as amber alerts, severe weather, natural disasters, forest fires, water contamination and even terrorist attacks - officials will be able to send an alert that will make cellphones emit an alarm, something like the high-pitched sound of the emergency Canadian Alert Attention Signal heard on TV and radio, or it may also cause your device to vibrate.
The alert will also display a bilingual text warning with an 'Emergency Alert /Alerte D’urgence' banner with more information describing the situation, instructions on what actions to take and where to find more information. At the top of each emergency alert, the issuing government agency will be clearly indicated.
The CRTC gave wireless providers a year to implement the system with a deadline of April 6th to be ready and it looks like all the major players are ready to comply.
According to CRTC, the alerts will be issued to a specific geographic area, so that only people in the defined area receive the emergency alerts. Compatible devices will receive the alert within seconds, as long as the devices are powered on and connected to the LTE cellular network.You cannot opt out of receiving 'threat-to-life' emergency alerts.
Normally, the alerts will only be issued one time unless there is an update, which will then be immediately issued and once a year, you will receive a 'test alert' to ensure the system is working properly, clearly indicating that it is a test.
For those with vision or hearing disabilities, other formats of the alerts can be issued to help make them aware of any emergency. They can contact the manufacturer of their mobile devices for more information on accessibility.
One point of concern about the 'Alert Ready' system is the potential of false alarms or the timing of them. There are other countries who already have similar emergency alert systems place, but have experienced problems such as waking people up in the wee hours of the morning with test alerts or false alarms sent out by staff training on the system and sent out in error. Just this past January, a false alarm in Hawaii about a missile attack made news headlines everywhere.
There will be test alerts in early May, so keep that in mind when you hear that piercing, beeping sound coming from your cellphone.
Are you ready for 'Alert Ready'?