Canada Is Getting Mandatory, Localized Emergency Alerts Via Smartphone Soon


Just so you know, your phone is about to start randomly scaring the shit out of you. But this is a good thing. Canada is finally getting a smartphone compatible emergency alert system.

Canada’s wireless providers are preparing for an update to the National Public Alerting System that will force smartphones to sound an ominous alarm when an emergency alert is triggered.
In case of emergencies including Amber Alerts, forest fires, natural disasters, terrorist attacks or severe weather, officials will be able to send a localized alert that will compel compatible phones on an LTE network to emit an alarm — the same shrill beeping that accompanies TV and radio emergency alerts — and display a bilingual text warning.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission gave wireless providers a year to implement the system with a deadline of April 6 to be ready to go live. A report by the CRTC said most wireless providers were in favour of an opt-out option or the ability to disable the alarm for some types of alerts, but consumers can’t turn off the warnings.
“People cannot opt out of this,” said CRTC spokesperson Patricia Valladao. “There is a high importance that people — want it or not — receive these alerts.”

I’m with the CRTC on this one. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no valid reason why we should be able to turn these things off. I know some would argue that it sucks to be awakened in the middle of the night by news of a bad storm or a missing child, but I would counter that by making two points.

  1. Mute your damn phone. The alarm won’t sound if it’s either muted or turned off.
  2. If the missing kid is your own or that of someone you’re close to, you’d be the first one standing in line to bitch about how irresponsible it is that the alerts can be ignored and you know it. Ditto if you woke up in a back yard 4 blocks away from where you went to sleep because nobody bothered mentioning the big ass tornado.

But what about false alarms?

That’s a fair point. Nobody wants a Hawaii getting nuked situation, but honestly, a rare mistake (most of which aren’t going to be that severe) is worth it if the thing one day saves my life or someone else’s.

You can get more info about what’s coming including a list of compatible phones and the types of messages to potentially expect at AlertReady.ca.

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