Mobile phones across Canada will vibrate and ring with a unique cadence and tone next week during a trial run of a new nationwide emergency public alerting system that takes advantage of ubiquitous cell phone use.
Wireless providers will send a test alert — it sounds similar to an ambulance alarm — to every compatible mobile device connected to an LTE network on May 7 and May 9, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission announced Monday.
Going forward, these alerts will be issued by emergency management officials and federal, provincial or territorial governments to warn people of imminent safety threats such as tornadoes or Amber Alerts.
But first, the government wants to the test the system to ensure it works properly and to familiarize Canadians with the alerting method. The U.S. already uses a similar system, which made headlines earlier this year when a false alarm was sent to people in Hawaii.
When millions of Canadians receive test alerts next week — there are about 31 million mobile phone subscriptions nationwide — they may have to acknowledge the message to resume normal use of their phones. Otherwise, the sound and vibration will continue for eight seconds.
People cannot opt out of receiving alerts on their smartphones. Visit alertready.ca to determine whether a specific phone is compatible.
The alert will be sent in Ontario and Quebec on May 7 and in the rest of Canada on May 9. Specific timing is as follows:
- Ontario 1:55 PM (EDT)
- Quebec 9:55 AM (EDT)
- Yukon 1:30 PM (PST)
- Northwest Territories 1:55 PM (MDT)
- Alberta 1:55 PM (MDT)
- British-Colombia 1:55 PM (PDT)
- Saskatchewan 1:55 PM (CST)
- Manitoba 1:55 PM (CDT)
- Newfoundland & Labrador 1:55 PM (NDT)
- Nova Scotia 1:55 PM (ADT)
- Prince Edward Island 1:55 PM (ADT)
- New-Brunswick 6:55 PM (ADT)