November 19, 2018 11 months 1 day ago

Alert Ready to be tested nationwide November 28

OAKVILLE – On Wednesday, November 28, provincial and territorial emergency management organizations will be issuing public test messages through Alert Ready, Canada's emergency alerting system, that will hit TVs, radios and wireless phones all around the country.

Each province and territory will issue one test message at 1:55 p.m. local time, with the exception of Quebec, where the test will occur at 2:55 p.m. local time. This will be the second live Alert Ready test this year. The first occurred during Emergency Preparedness Week in May 2018 and readers may recall there were a few glitches.

The Alert Ready system was created by and is operated by Pelmorex (owner of The Weather Network/MeteoMedia), but was developed with many partners including federal, provincial, and territorial government agencies, the broadcasting industry and wireless service providers. It has enabled government authorities to deliver emergency alerts to Canadians over television and radio since 2015, and to compatible wireless devices since April 2018.

“It is important to note that not all Canadians will receive the test alert on their wireless device. This may occur for a variety of reasons, including device compatibility, connection to an LTE network, cell tower coverage, device software and settings,” notes the press release.

"There are a number of reasons why a person's device might not receive the alert," said Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association president and CEO Robert Ghiz. "Everything from device compatibility, access or connection to an LTE network, and device software and settings can have an impact on whether or not the alert comes through. That's why we're encouraging all Canadians to check their device compatibility on their wireless service provider's website, and ensure their device has the latest software update installed."

The CRTC has set the target that 50% of new devices currently available for sale in Canada must be compatible with Alert Ready. This target increases to 100% by April 2019. Over time, more devices will become compatible and more Canadians will be able to receive emergency alerts on their wireless device. The Commission noted earlier this year it needed to see another test as well as better consumer awareness of the system.

More than 100 emergency alerts have been successfully transmitted to Canadians over television, radio and wireless since April 2018 and some in Ottawa credited the system with giving them crucial advance warning of the tornadoes which struck the area in September. However, alerts have not been issued in all areas of Canada. A national test will provide an opportunity to validate the end-to-end performance and reliability of the system everywhere in Canada.

"Keeping Canadians safe and informed is of the utmost importance for us at Pelmorex. We have a long history of keeping people aware of critical and potentially life-threatening situations," said Martin Bélanger, director of public alerting at Pelmorex. "Testing all components across the country is an important and necessary part of any public alerting system."

Pelmorex is the operator of the National Alert Aggregation and Dissemination system, which is the technical backbone of the Alert Ready system.

Such tests also help educate Canadians about the Alert Ready system and how it works across devices.