Are You Ready for 'Alert Ready' on your Smart­phone?

Montreal Times - - News -

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'?

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