Canada’s Emergency Wireless Alert System Goes Live; Nationwide Tests Coming May 6-12

Canada’s Alert Ready system has expanded beyond radio and television today, with wireless alerts now part of the program. This means geo-targeted emergency alerts will now be sent to Canadians with compatible cellphones connected to LTE networks, as part of the National Public Alerting System.

According to the CRTC, a nationwide public alerting test will take place from May 6-12, during Emergency Preparedness Week, performed by all wireless providers. This will allow Canadians “to become familiar with how public alert messages will be delivered to their mobile devices, including the tone and vibration cadence that will distinguish them from regular text messages.”

Wireless users can expect federal, provincial and territorial governments and emergency management officials to send alerts to the public of imminent threats, related to dangers such as fires, tornadoes, floods, water contamination and Amber Alerts.

Ian Scott, CRTC Chairperson and CEO, previously said in a statement “Nothing is more important than making sure Canadians are informed in a timely matter about an imminent danger such as a tornado, wildfire or Amber Alert when a child’s life is in grave danger. Mandatory distribution of public emergency alert messages on mobile devices will help do just that.”

One year ago, the CRTC mandated all Canadian wireless carriers to setup the system by today. Over the past month or so, wireless carriers have been informing Canadians via text message about the system’s impending launch.

Wireless alerts are not text messages, but rather part of the wireless public alerting (WPA) standard, built into compatible phones which support LTE (Apple iPhones started supporting LTE since iPhone 5). Canadians will not be able to opt out of the system.

For those with older cellphones that do not support LTE, the free iOS app Alertable can send alerts over 3G or Wi-Fi, as it is linked to Canada’s Alert Ready system.

Click here to visit the Alert Ready website to see if your smartphone is compatible.