British Columbians with an LTE signal will begin to receive emergency alerts via their cellphones beginning April 6.
The emergency alerts may look like text messages, but will sound like anything but. Instead, they will be accompanied by a jarring alarm and will use radio-type technology to only send alerts to a specified area.
The alerts, sent by Emergency Management B.C., will initially only be available for tsunami warnings. However, the province is considering sending out alerts for other threats in the future.
“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.” Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, said in a release.
In order to receive the alerts, devices, such as smartphones, must be able to receive an LTE signal, be connected to LTE at the time of the alert. The phones must also be WPA compatible, meaning be embedded with a special software which allows for service providers to send messages via Cell Broadcast to be received in standard Alert Ready format.
The province will test the system publicly on May 9 at 1:55 p.m. PT to allow people to get an understanding of how the system works.
The alerts will work in coordination with the Provincial Emergency Notification System (PENS), social media, sirens, subscription-based text message alerts and other mechanisms.
“As the province continues to refine its emergency management system, it is equally important that all British Columbians take their own steps to prepare by understanding the risks where they live and work, creating an emergency plan and assembling an emergency kit,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness in a release.
Though other devices such as tablets and smart watches may have access to an LTE signal, they may not necessarily receive notifications from the Alert Ready format.
Additionally, emergency notifications will also be broadcast on TV and radio and may interrupt the programming.