Alert Ready - emergency alert system

Introducing Alert Ready, Canada’s New Emergency Alert System



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What is Alert Ready?

Alert Ready is designed to deliver critical and potentially life-saving alerts to Canadians through television and radio. The Alert Ready system is developed in partnership with federal, provincial and territorial emergency management officials, Environment and Climate Change Canada, The Weather Network and the broadcast industry to ensure you receive alerts immediately and know when to take action to keep yourself and your family safe.




Alert Tone

If you hear this tone on television or radio, please pay attention and take action right away.


What types of alerts are broadcast?

Government officials developed a specific list of the types of alerts that are considered a threat to life and should be "broadcast immediately." Below is a complete list and description of these alerts.


  • Urban Fire

    An urban fire threatens multiple residential and/or commercial properties.

  • Industrial Fire

    A large fire in an industrial building or complex that poses a threat to human health.

  • Wildfire

    A wildfire involves natural combustibles, such as grass, brush and trees.

  • Forest Fire

    A Forest fire is a wildfire or prescribed fire that is burning in forested areas, grass or alpine/tundra vegetation and poses a threat to human safety.

  • Tornado

    A tornado is a vortex of a violently rotating winds, often forming a funnel shaped cloud that is capable of damaging property and injuring people.

  • Flash Flood

    Often occurring from river ice jams and excessive unexpected rainfall, a flash flood is the sudden onset of water causing immediate flooding. This event presents a unique danger to life and safety as there is little or no warning that this event will occur.

  • Earthquake

    An earthquake is a sudden release of energy in the Earth’s crust that creates seismic waves that can cause substantial damage, especially in urban environments.

  • Hurricane

    A hurricane is violent storm comprised of intense winds and, heavy rain, potentially causing a storm surge, floods, coastal erosion or landslides.

  • Tsunami

    A tsunami is a gravitational sea wave produced by a large-scale, short-duration disturbance of the ocean floor.

  • Thunderstorm

    A thunderstorm is a storm of heavy rain accompanied by thunder and lightning that poses a threat to persons.

  • Storm Surge

    A storm surge is abnormal rise in sea level accompanying an intense storm or hurricane that poses a threat to coastal areas.

  • Landslide

    The general term for a wide variety of processes and landforms involving the down slope movement under the force of gravity of masses of soil and rock material, a landslide can threaten communities and infrastructure located in its path.

  • Dam Overflow

    An overflowing or failing of a dam or reservoir that threatens downstream areas. An alert is issued only in the case of imminent flooding.

  • Magnetic Storm

    A magnetic storm is a worldwide disturbance of the Earth’s magnetic field that can disable electronic devices and infrastructure.

  • Meteorite

    A natural object of extraterrestrial origin (meteoroid) that passes through the atmosphere and hits the ground.

  • Lahar

    Lahar is a flowing mixture of water-saturated rock debris that forms on the slopes of a volcano. Moving down slope under the force of gravity, lahar can threaten communities situated near the volcano.

  • Pyroclastic Flow

    A pyroclastic flow is a high density flow of solid volcanic fragments suspended in gas that flows down slope from a volcanic vent and can threaten communities situated near the volcanos.

  • Pyroclastic Surge

    A pyroclastic surge is a turbulent, low-density cloud of hot rock debris and gases that are ejected during a volcanic eruption that moves over the ground surface at a high speed.

  • Volcanic Ash

    Volcanic ash is comprised of dust or particles emitted by a volcano during a eruption. Volcanic ash may remain suspended in the atmosphere for a long period of time.

  • Biological

    A potentially dangerous and poisonous substance that is usually very unstable and can be easily transferred between living organisms.

  • Chemical

    A chemical substance that, if misused or released, could result in serious injury or death.

  • Radiological

    With sufficient concentration, a radiological substance.

  • Drinking Water Contamination

    When water quality is negatively affected and a boil-water advisory may be raised, cautioning use by the public.

  • Explosive

    A potentially dangerous substance or device that may explode.

  • Air Quality

    A decrease in air quality is caused by an elevated particulate count in the atmosphere that can negatively affect visibility or the health of individuals.

  • Falling Object

    Natural or human-made materials at risk of falling, which may threaten people or property.

  • Terrorist Threat

    The use of violence or threats of violence by individuals or groups against civilians or infrastructure.

  • Civil Emergency

    A civil emergency occurs when humans cause a disruption of services or require varying levels of support, law enforcement or attention.

  • Animal Danger

    When a wild or domesticated animal poses a threat to human life or property.

  • Amber Alert

    An Amber Alert is issued by police services when a child has been abducted and it is believed that his/her life is in grave danger. An Amber Alert provides the public with immediate and up-to-date information about the abduction and solicits the public’s help in the safe and swift return of the child.

  • 911 Service

    A 911 service alert happens when there is a disruption or outage of telecommunication services between the public and emergency responders.

  • Test Message


    A test message may be issued for either public awareness or technical testing purposes.

Roles & Responsibilities

Each stakeholder has a unique and important role in the Alert Ready process.

  1. Government Issuer
    • Specifies the type of alert [e.g. amber alert, tornado etc.] as well as whether it is to be broadcast immediately because of imminent threat to life
    • Chooses the content of the message, including which language(s) the message will be issued in
    • Chooses the format of the message, including whether the message will be sent as text only, audio only or in both text and audio formats
    • Specifies why and when the alert is sent
    • Ensures when the alert is updated and/or cancelled
    • Specifies the geographical areas covered by the alert
  2. NAAD System
    • Pelmorex Communications Inc. operates the National Alerting and Aggregation Dissemination (NAAD) System
    • The NAAD System is a quick, efficient, and secure delivery of alert messages, as provided from the government issuer to TV/radio/cable/satellite companies by means of satellite and internet data feeds
    • Ensures agreed to technical standards regarding the format of alert data files are respected
    • Ensures full Canada-wide coverage of alert data feeds are available to last mile distributors (LMDs)
  3. Broadcast Companies
    • Choose the manner in which the message is broadcast. This includes colour, font, screen position of text and in some cases the audio presentation

     

    Please note:

    • Last mile distributors (LMDs) are expected to broadcast a message once, but may, at their discretion, repeat the message occasionally or keep it displayed until it is cancelled by the government issuer
    • In the absence of the message in an audio format, LMDs may use Text to Speech (TTS) to transcribe the text into speech for broadcast
    • Poor formatting of the message text by the government issuer can impact the quality of the TTS audio broadcast by the TV/radio/cable/satellite company
  4. The Public
    • When an alert is heard, it is the responsibility of the public to stop, listen and respond as directed by the issuing authority and the alert message

Alert Testing Schedule

The table below indicates when the next test will take place in each province/territory.

Province/Territory Local Testing Date Local Testing Time Local Time Zone
Alberta No Test This Round
British Columbia 5/11/2017 1:55 PM PDT
Manitoba 5/10/2017 1:55 PM CDT
New Brunswick 5/7/2017 5:55 PM ADT
Newfoundland & Labrador 5/10/2017 1:55 PM NDT
Northwest Territories 5/10/2017 1:55 PM MDT
Nova Scotia 5/10/2017 1:55 PM ADT
Nunavut No Test This Round
Ontario 5/10/2017 1:55 PM EDT
Prince Edward Island 5/10/2017 1:55 PM ADT
Quebec 5/12/2017 9:55 AM EDT
Saskatchewan 5/10/2017 1:55 PM CST
Yukon 5/10/2017 9:45 AM PDT






flooded street

Frequently Asked Questions

We have made it fast and easy for you to find helpful answers to your questions.

What is Alert Ready?

Alert Ready is a system that allows Canadian government officials at the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal level to issue all types of public safety messages. Media companies, including television, radio stations, cable and satellite distributors as well as websites access the alerts and relay them to their consumers.

What types of alerts are issued?

The Alert Ready system allows officials at each level of government to issue a wide range of public safety messages. The scope can cover events such as tornadoes, train derailments, industrial fires, water contamination and missing persons as well as informational alerts such as frost warnings. The list is not limited to weather or environmental warnings. For a full list, click here.

Are all alerts available on broadcast services?

There are specific alerts that are to be immediately broadcasted to consumers by TV & radio broadcasts and cable & satellite distributors. Broadcast immediately alerts are those that pose an imminent threat to life or property. These alerts have the highest level of severity, urgency and certainty.
 

It is at the discretion of each of the broadcasters and media companies to choose to make available other alerts that may be of interest to their consumers.

Who can issue an alert within government agencies?

Each provincial or territorial government decides who will have the authority to issue alerts. For example, 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.
 

Federally, Environment and Climate Change Canada uses the Alert Ready system to distribute weather warnings, watches and alerts.

Are a lot of alerts being issued?

The amount and type of alerts vary by jurisdiction. Broadcast immediately alerts are infrequent.

Are broadcasters required by law to distribute alerts?

Regulations require all commercial, campus, community and Native radio and television broadcasters, as well as cable, satellite and IPTV providers, to broadcast alerts.

Will the alerts be for my specific area?

The alerting authority will determine what areas are affected by an incident, weather or environmental situation. They will use a standard system that will typically correspond with census divisions and sub-divisions that are usually along municipal boundaries. The standardized system will allow participating radio, television, cable and satellite companies to broadcast the alerts that are most relevant to the communities they serve.

Will multiple alerts be generated for the same event if sent by multiple authorities? For example, a heavy rain warning from Environment and Climate Change Canada and flooding warning from the provincial or territorial authority.

It is possible for multiple alert messages to be issued for the same event because the event is being managed by different government levels or departments.
 

However, emergency management officials are experts in their fields and coordinate activities, including public alerting very closely and will be monitoring alerts issued by neighbouring jurisdictions.

How will I know when an alert has ended?

Alerting authorities must set a time when they expect the alert to expire. In addition they may cancel or update an alert anytime they wish if the situation has changed or is considered “all-clear.” Radio, television, cable and satellite companies have the option to notify the public when an alert is no longer in effect based on this information.
 

It is important to note that the expiry date and time indicates when an alert expires, but does not necessarily indicate when an emergency is over. It indicates when the alert expires. Because each alert issued requires that an expiry date and time be included, alerting authorities estimate when they think the alert will need to be updated or cancelled. The expiry date and time information is not included when played on television or radio, but might be listed if the alert is communicated through other mediums, such as websites and email.

What will alerts look like on my television?

An alert begins with the alerting attention signal interrupting scheduled program audio, followed by the alert presented as a full screen or a crawler section at the bottom of the screen.

What will alerts sound like on my radio?

An alert begins with the alerting attention signal interrupting current programming followed by a description of the potential threat.

Will alerts interrupt my television show?

The exact manner in which alerts will be broadcast is left to the discretion of the local television broadcaster, cable or satellite distributor. A crawl across the top or bottom of the screen or a full-page display is expected for most alerts.

What type of security is in place so that I know the alerts are being sent by an authorized agency?

The operators of the Alert Ready system and government officials at all levels take security very seriously.
 

In addition to the security measures that government agencies take every day to ensure access to their system is by authorized personnel only, additional passwords and user identification is needed for users of the Alert Ready system. Separately, Pelmorex Media, the operator of the Alert Ready system, has additional measures in place to prevent unauthorized access.
 

Finally, each individual message issued using the Alert Ready system will have a unique digital certificate to ensure its authenticity.

How are alerts made available to the visually impaired?

Government authorities can include an audio file version of the text portion of the alert message. If this is not provided, broadcasters may use text-to-speech software to create an audio version of the message.

Will the alerts be sent out in different languages?

Alerts will be sent out as per the official language requirements of each jurisdiction or agency. At the discretion of the issuing government authority, alerts can made available in additional languages. However, distribution of alerts in additional languages is not required by local television, radio, cable or satellite operators.

What are the different ways I can receive the alerts?

You can expect to receive alert messages via Canadian radio and TV , cable and satellite operators. It is also expected that “value-added” services like subscription text messages or email services will be developed by some media companies.
 

For example, you can sign up to receive Public Safety Alerts directly to your mobile device by subscribing with The Weather Network or downloading the weather app on your smartphone or tablet.

If an alert is issued, how and where can I find out more information?

Government officials may include references within their alert to obtain additional information. As well, it is expected that some television and radio broadcasters will cover events from a news perspective, and provide additional information.

What’s the relationship between the alerting system and The Weather Network/MétéoMédia?

The Alert Ready infrastructure is operated by Pelmorex Media Inc. which is the parent company that owns and operates The Weather Network and MétéoMédia.

What does an alert sound like?

If you hear this on your television or radio station, pay attention and take action as needed.

Can I get Alert Ready alerts on my smartphone or wireless mobile device?

At this time Alert Ready alerts are not automatically broadcast directly by wireless carriers. However, the CRTC has mandated that all Canadian wireless service providers must be capable of distributing public alerting messages to mobile devices on LTE networks by April 6, 2018.
 

As well, some companies and government agencies currently provide text messaging or mobile apps on a subscription basis that support the delivery of alerts.

How are alerts broadcast in my province/territory?



To learn more about how emergency alerts are broadcast in your region and other resources please select your province or territory below.

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