On May 5, 2021, Alert Ready will be testing its emergency system. Wireless Public Alerting (WPA) capable devices may receive a test emergency alert from the Alert Ready service. This test is sent by provincial emergency management officials via wireless carriers’ networks including Eastlink.
Alert Ready is a service designed to deliver critical and potentially life-saving emergency alert messages to Canadians over cellular networks.
The Alert Ready system was developed in partnership with federal, provincial, and territorial emergency management officials, Pelmorex Corp., the broadcast industry, and wireless service providers to ensure you receive emergency alerts immediately and know when to take action to keep you and your family safe.
Similar to alerts that appear on TV, emergency alerts for wireless devices are issued to a specific, targeted geographic area, which can be as small as a few city blocks and as big as province wide so that only people in the affected area(s) receive the emergency alerts. These areas are determined by the alerting authorities. Compatible cellular devices should receive the emergency alert(s) within seconds of alert issuance.
Federal, provincial, and territorial governments are responsible for issuing emergency alerts.
Federally, emergency alerts are issued most frequently by Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Each provincial or territorial government decides who will have the authority to issue alerts within their jurisdictions. For example, emergency alerts could be issued by provincial or territorial emergency management offices or in some cases by municipal emergency management offices or local police and fire departments.
Media companies, including television, radio stations, cable and satellite distributors, as well as websites receive these emergency alerts and relay them to their consumers.
As of 2018, mobile service providers are capable of distributing emergency alerts received from alerting authorities directly to their consumers’ compatible mobile devices connected to LTE networks using Cell Broadcast distribution.
The Alert Ready system allows alerting authorities from federal, provincial and territorial governments to issue a wide range of public safety messages. However, broadcasters and mobile service providers are only required to distribute emergency alerts for situations that pose an immediate threat-to-life.
Government officials developed and agreed on a specific list of the types of alerts that are considered a threat-to-life and should be distributed immediately, interrupting radio and television broadcasts. These “Broadcast Immediately” emergency alerts have the highest level of severity, urgency and certainty. For a full list, visit the Alert Types section of the Alert Ready website.
Issuing alerts outside of this list (for example heavy rainfall or blizzard warnings) is at the discretion of each of the broadcasters. Mobile service providers will only receive and relay messages that are issued for threat-to-life situations.
Yes. The alerting authority determines what areas are affected by an incident, weather or environmental situation, and uses a standard system that will typically correspond with municipal, regional or provincial boundaries. The standardized system will allow participating radio, television, cable and satellite companies to broadcast the emergency alerts that are most relevant to the communities they serve.
Emergency alerts intended for mobile devices are issued to a defined geographic area, which can be as small as a few city blocks, so that only people in the defined area receive the emergency alerts. Compatible mobile devices in the targeted area will receive the emergency alerts within seconds of being issued, provided the phones are powered on and connected to the LTE cellular network.
No. In order for emergency alerts to be received on a mobile device three conditions must be met. The mobile device must be:i. An LTE-device like a smartphone (LTE is commonly referred to as “4G LTE”);ii. Wireless public alerting (WPA)-compatible; andiii. Connected to an LTE cellular network at the time the emergency alert is issued, or joins the network while the alert is still active.
A mobile device that is WPA-compatible is (1) an LTE-device, and (2) has special software embedded in it which allows for messages sent by your service provider, via Cell Broadcast, to be received in the standard Alert Ready format.
Emergency alerts that meet the Alert Ready format allow you to know when an alert is received (because of the sound and vibration), and also provides confirmation that it is issued by a legitimate sources.
Click here for information on compatible devices.
No. While the emergency alert may look like a text message it is not a text message.
Emergency alerts are sent via Cell Broadcast distribution. Cell Broadcast is a mobile technology that allows messages to be broadcast to all compatible mobile devices within a designated geographical area. Cell Broadcast is designed for simultaneous message delivery to multiple users in a specified area, and is not affected by network congestion because it uses dedicated part of the network, different from that used for traditional voice and data traffic.
Cell Broadcast can be compared to radio broadcast. Radio towers broadcast music to people in defined geographic areas as long as the individuals can pick-up the broadcast signal and have their radios turned on. Similarly, Cell Broadcast messages are delivered to those compatible mobile devices that are within range of cell towers and antennas in the designated area.
Mobile service providers are required to distribute Emergency alerts to compatible smartphones that can access LTE (cellular) networks. Additional mobile devices – such as tablets and wearable accessories (e.g. smartwatches) – may be capable, from a technical perspective, to receive some form of the message, but it will not necessarily be received on the device in the Alert Ready format.
Click here for information on compatible mobile devices.
Emergency alerts will not end or terminate a voice call or data session in progress.
If you are on a voice call when the emergency alert is received, you will be made aware of the alert by a notification tone (similar to call waiting). When your call terminates the alert will be displayed on your mobile device.
If you are on a data session, the emergency alert will briefly interrupt your data session will continue but it may be briefly interrupted by the emergency alert appearing on your mobile device screen.
A compatible mobile device that is turned off, or is in Airplane Mode, will not display an emergency alert. If the emergency alert is still active when the mobile device is powered on, and the user is still in the alert area, the mobile device will then display the alert.
A compatible mobile device that is set to silent will display an emergency alert, but you might not hear the emergency alert sound. The emergency alert sound will usually play at whatever the current volume setting is on the mobile device, so if your device is set to silent, no sound will accompany the emergency alert message. However, this behaviour can differ depending on your mobile device and in some instances the alert sound may override your user settings.
If the emergency alert is still active when the compatible mobile device is turned back on, and you are within the emergency alert area, the emergency alert will be displayed. If the emergency alert is no longer active or if you have travelled outside of the alert area, it will not be displayed.
While on Wi-Fi, if the compatible mobile device can still communicate with the LTE cellular network, it will receive emergency alerts. If the mobile device is not within reach of the LTE cellular network (or is set to Wi-Fi only) it will not receive an emergency alert.
Test alert messages will be identified as such. These messages are intended to “test” the functionality of the system, and inform consumer of wireless emergency alerts, and do not require the consumer to take steps to secure their safety. You may be required to acknowledge receipt of the emergency alert in order to allow for your mobile device to resume normal functioning. In the event that you cannot acknowledge the alert, the alert sound and vibration will continue for 8 seconds. Depending on your specific mobile device, additional reminders may occur.
It is important to take action safely, especially if the emergency alert is received while operating a vehicle. If you are driving, it is important to remain calm and pull over at your earliest opportunity to view the emergency alert.
Wireless alerts are sent on a specific cellular channel that is separate from normal text and data traffic. While the alerts may look like text messages, they are not text messages and are not billed like text messages. Also, emergency alerts are sent to mobile devices in a specific geographic area and do not require the phone numbers of those devices. As such there is no ability to identify or bill for the messages that are received.
No. Emergency alerts received on your compatible mobile device are relevant to you and require immediate attention, and government regulations mandate that all compatible mobile devices receive all relevant alerts. Unlike radio and television broadcasting, which often has broad areas of coverage; wireless public alerting is geo-targeted and can be very specific to a limited area of coverage. As a result, if an emergency alert reaches your mobile device, you are located in an area where there is an imminent danger.
Yes. Emergency alerts are issued to a defined geographic area, such that only people in the defined area will receive the emergency alerts. If you are travelling and happen to be in another province when an emergency alert is issued, your compatible mobile device will receive the emergency alert within seconds of being issued, provided your phone is powered on and connected to the LTE cellular network.
No. If you are travelling, you will only receive emergency alerts that occur where you are.
Canadians can keep track of emergency alerts occurring in specific areas (e.g. where they or other family members live) through a number of available apps and online services.
Emergency alerts are broadcast from cellular towers and antennas within the area specified by the alert issuer. Compatible mobile devices connected to the specified towers/antennas will receive the emergency alert. The towers/antennas therefore must be operational to send emergency alerts. If you are in an affected area but your mobile device is unable to connect to any towers/antennas because of the situation, you will not receive the emergency alert on your mobile device.
No. Emergency alerts are sent using Cell Broadcast distribution. Cell Broadcast can only transmit information to your mobile device. This means that no data is being gathered about you, your mobile device or your location when emergency alerts are sent out.
All WPA compatible devices require the latest software. Please check back regularly to see if your device is WPA compatible. If your device is not listed below, you will not receive Wireless Public Alerts. If you have an international version of the devices below, you may not receive Wireless Public Alerts.
iPhone SE, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone SE (second generation), iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 12 Mini
Go Flip 3, Alcatel A50, Alcatel 1, Go Flip, Pixi 4, Pixi 5, U50, 3T8
Velvet, K61, K41S, G8x ThinQ Dual Screen, G8 ThinQ, Stylo 3 Plus, G7 One, Q Stylo+, X Power 3, G6, Nexus 5x, K30, G8X ThinQ, Q60, Q70,
Note20 Ultra, Note20, Galaxy A51, Galaxy A8, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+, Galaxy XCover 4, Samsung A5, Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10+, Galaxy S10e, Note 10, Note 10+, Galaxy A70, Galaxy A50, Galaxy A20, Galaxy S20 5G, Galaxy S20+ 5G Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, Galaxy A71, Galaxy S20 FE, Galaxy A21
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