News Canada

Emergency alert test shows need for improvement

by Joyanne Pursaga, Postmedia Network

 


A text message from Virgin Mobile is seen on a smart phone in Stonewall on May 10. Manitoba’s first test of emergency alert cellphone messages didn’t reach about 40% of eligible devices and  the Manitoba minister responsible for emergency measures Ron Schuler said another test will occur in sometime later in the month, with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission expected to complete an extensive review of what went wrong in the meantime.

A text message from Virgin Mobile is seen on a smart phone in Stonewall on May 10. Manitoba’s first test of emergency alert cellphone messages didn’t reach about 40% of eligible devices and the Manitoba minister responsible for emergency measures Ron Schuler said another test will occur in sometime later in the month, with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission expected to complete an extensive review of what went wrong in the meantime.

Manitoba’s first test of emergency alert cellphone messages didn’t reach about 40% of eligible devices.
 
The test of the Alert Ready public awareness system took place at 1:55 p.m. Wednesday. But preliminary figures show only about 60% of the mobile devices that should have received an alert actually did, said Ron Schuler, the Manitoba minister responsible for emergency measures.
 
“I would say that the test was successful to get us through grade school, probably not into med school,” said Schuler. “We understand (that for) one of the carriers, the technology did not work at all.”
 
Schuler said Telus phones did not appear to receive any of the messages, while other carriers didn’t manage to send the message to all phones.
 
Schuler said another test will occur in sometime in May 2019, with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission expected to complete an extensive review of what went wrong in the meantime.
 
Schuler said no glitches occurred on the province’s side of the technology.
 
“Through emergency measures, our system worked 100%. So the issue was not with the system that we provided,” he said.
 
The warning system for emergencies and disasters already transmits alerts through radio, cable and satellite TV in Manitoba. The expansion to cellphones is meant to help further spread warnings of potentially life-threatening events. Those alerts were expected to reach all compatible cellphones on LTE wireless networks.
 
Those who did receive the test warning heard a loud sound and vibration, then saw an emergency alert banner and message.
 
The alerts have also proven unreliable through tests in other provinces. In Quebec, no alerts came through, while in Ontario only some equipped cellphones received them.
 
 


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