Emergency alerts for mobile phone users in B.C. to go live Friday

The B.C. government will be implementing an emergency alert system for mobile users, like the one that made headlines in Hawaii in January, on Friday with a test to take place next month. The system will only warn of tsunamis initially. Wikipedia photo.

VICTORIA, B.C. — The B.C. government issued a notice this week that emergency alerts issued through the national Alert Ready program will be able to be sent to compatible wireless devices such as smartphones starting April 6th.

Wireless alerts will be publicly tested for the first time in B.C. on May 9th at 1:55 p.m. local time, in addition to tests on radio and television stations. On April 6th of last year, the CRTC mandated that wireless service providers be capable of sending wireless public alerts in Canada in one year’s time.

A similar system made headlines in early January when a warning of an imminent ballistic missile attack in Hawaii was sent to cellphone users via the U.S. Commercial Mobile Alert System. That warning turned out to be a false alarm.

“Accurate and timely information in an emergency situation can save lives and livelihoods, and we need to deploy every tool available to alert people of potential public safety threats,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “As technology improves, we are always looking for new ways to broaden our reach and reduce the time it takes to communicate critical safety information. Wireless alerts will help us achieve both of those objectives.”

The government said today that Emergency Management B.C. will initially issue such alerts for tsunami threats only, with an expansion including other hazards and emergencies possibly being considered in the future.