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Public alert system to be tested Wednesday

The test is scheduled to happen here in Nova Scotia at 1:55 p.m. 
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(stock photo)

On Wednesday afternoon, your TV, radio and mobile devices will make sure you're alert as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) conducts a test of its National Public Alerting System.

The test is scheduled to happen here in Nova Scotia at 1:55 p.m. 

"Ongoing testing of the National Public Alerting System provides an opportunity for stakeholders to validate and improve the system’s performance and reliability to ensure it operates as intended in the event of a life-threatening situation," a news release issued today by the CRTC states. 

"The messages will be identified as test alerts and will not require Canadians to take action."

For a wireless device to receive a test alert, the CRTC says it must be connected to an LTE wireless or a newer wireless network, it must be wireless public alerting compatible and equipped with a recent Canadian version of its operating software.

If a mobile device meets these conditions and does not receive the test, the CRTC encourages Canadians to contact their service provider.

This summer, Ontario Provincial Police used the system to alert Lanark County residents that an armed man was at large after a body was found in a motel room.

That alert came about three months after a denturist went on a shooting rampage in Portapique, killing 22 people. The RCMP was criticized for not using the system.

Quebec City police also faced backlash last month for not using the system to warn the public about a sword-wielding individual roaming the streets, killing two people and injuring five others.

Quick facts:

  • Since January 2019, hundreds of emergency alert messages were successfully transmitted by emergency management officials to warn Canadians of a potentially life-threatening situation. These alerts have been credited with saving lives.
  • Public alerts are important in times of crisis and have recently been used to relay crucial information to the public regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • All devices sold by wireless service providers after April 6, 2019, are expected to be compatible with wireless public alerting.
  • Compatible devices may react differently to public alerts, depending on the phone’s brand, model and operating system.
  • The National Public Alerting System involves various stakeholders:
    • Public Safety Canada is the lead federal department responsible for emergency management and coordinates the development of policies for public alerting with federal, provincial and territorial stakeholders.
    • Emergency alert messages are issued by federal, provincial and territorial governments as well as designated emergency management officials to warn the public of imminent threats, such as fires, tornadoes, floods and Amber Alerts.
    • Provincial officials are responsible for issuing scheduled test messages.
    • Pelmorex Inc. operates the National Alert Aggregation and Dissemination System, which disseminates alerts to broadcasters and wireless service providers.
    • The CRTC regulates the broadcasting and telecommunications service providers that distribute emergency alerts to the public.
    • Radio, television and television service providers broadcast the messages.
  • Wireless service providers deliver alerts to wireless cellular devices.

With files from the Canadian Press

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