Canada's new mobile alert system fails first test

Alert Ready, Canada’s new mobile public alerting system, had its first real-world test in Ontario and Quebec on May 7. But if the emergency had been real, only a fraction of those who were supposed to receive the warning would have gotten it.

The system went live after the CRTC mandated all wireless service providers need to be able to send threat-to-life emergency messages by April 6. As of that day, Canadians should no longer need to rely on special apps or subscribe to SMS message lists to receive mobile alerts during an emergency.

The system is managed and administered by a company called Pelmorex Corp., in partnership with the federal government and wireless providers across Canada.

“Automatically if you are in the zone [of an alert] and you have an LTE compatible device, you will receive an emergency alert,” Martin Belanger, spokesperson for Pelmorex Corp., said earlier this year.

That wasn’t the case for many people in Ontario, who didn’t receive the alert on May 7  — nor was it the case for anyone in Quebec, where the test failed completely. The outcome showed how easily the system can fail.

Alert Ready’s website says ”a space incorrectly included in the coding” was responsible for the system’s failure in Quebec. Pelmorex is investigating the reason the test message only reached some phones in Ontario.

The rest of Canada won’t be able to assess the system until the afternoon of May 9, when the rest of the nation-wide tests are scheduled to run.

Did you receive the alert? Would you just Alert Ready to warn you in an emergency? Answer our poll below.