Public Alert System
The loud siren on your wireless device, radio, or television that startles you into awareness and alerts you about an evolving situation, but what does it mean and how can you help your neighbourhood?
The Wireless Public Alert system is called Alert Ready and was designed to deliver critical and potentially life-saving alerts to Canadians through television, radio, and compatible wireless devices. The alerts are initiated by the lead agency of an emerging situation and are issued by Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office.
With the National Alert Ready system, there are two different types of alerts. First, “Broadcast Immediately” which is the highest level of severity, urgency and certainty and will make a loud noise on the device to get your attention. The second type of alert is not intrusive and appears without a noise, similar to weather notices. In order to send a “Broadcast Immediately” alert, there is a specific list of alerts that are considered a threat to life.
Alerts can be sent to the whole province or a targeted area that rely on cell towers for those in the area. The national alerts are recognized by Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications (CRTC) and you do not have to sign-up to receive them nor can you opt out of receiving them. The CRTC requires wireless service providers to distribute alerts on all compatible wireless devices connected to an LTE network in the target area. To check if your device is compatible to receive the alert, visit Alert Ready.
Alert Ready sends life-threatening emergency alerts to cell phones and wireless devices that are compatible with Wireless Public Alerting. For emergency alerts to be received on a wireless device, three conditions must be met. The wireless device must be:
- A wireless public alerting compatible device, like a smartphone, capable of connecting to an LTE network (LTE is commonly referred to as “4G LTE”); and
- Equipped with the latest version of its operating software; and
- Connected to an LTE cellular network at the time the emergency alert is issued or joins the network while the alert is still active.
If your device meets the three conditions and you did not receive the alert, you should contact your service provider.
Generally, only one alert will be generated for the same event. Only if the situation changes significantly would an additional alert be sent. You can follow the lead agency’s website or social media for updates after the alert has been sent.
Upon receiving an alert it is important to take action safely. This could include but is not limited to limiting travel, evacuate the area, shelter-in-place, etc., and the action to take will be outlined in the alert.
You may get the alert more than one time even though it was only issued once and this could be because you are driving through the specified geographic area or your LTE connection reconnected after losing the signal.
You will not be charged for receiving an emergency alert as the alert is not sent by text and does not require a phone number as it is sent to a specific geographic area.
There are two tests per year of the national emergency alert system. Check out the website for the next test date.
For more information about the types of alerts that can be issued, checking your device for compatibility, or to answer many questions, please visit Alert Ready.
Note: A municipality may also have a local alert program to notify its residents of changes to services or a localized emergency, however it is different from Alert Ready which is a national alert system. In a municipal alert system, you need to opt-in to receive those alerts.