Alert Ready System Test Results: November 17, 2021

On November 17, 2021, Canadian emergency agencies tested the Alert Ready system, Canada's national public alert system. See what Canadians had to say.

On November 17, 2021, provincial and territorial emergency officials conducted tests of Alert Ready, Canada’s national alert system. British Columbia and the Northwest Territories did not participateThese alerts were sent via radio, television, LTE compatible wireless devices, and other third-party emergency alert products such as Alertable.

The one-way broadcast nature of most Alert Ready distribution channels does not provide a direct way for the public to provide feedback on alerts. This includes radio, television, and LTE-compatible wireless devices. Because of this, Public Emergency Alerting Services Inc (PEASI) took the initiative to solicit feedback from the November 17, 2021 test. They have a specific interest in the effectiveness of the wireless alerting channel.

PEASI created an online survey and asked Canadians to complete it. The survey was widely shared via municipal officials, social media, news organizations, and the Alert Ready website. In total there were 5336 responses, an increase of 7.9% from the last survey conducted in May of 2021.  This is because of the increased number of provinces choosing to participate in the test alert. Many chose not to participate in the last test, largely because of COVID-19 priorities. 

Survey responses came from:

  • 52.2%- Ontario
  • 23.7% – Quebec
  • 9.0% – Prince Edward Island
  • 15.1% – All other participating Canadian provinces/territories

115 responses reported other locations besides the provinces/territories participating.

Success of the test alert:

  • 92.6% report receiving the wireless test alert
  • 7.4% report not receiving the test alert
  • 4.5% success rate increase from the last test alert in May 2021

Success rate by province:

  • Alberta- 90%
  • Manitoba-89%
  • New Brunswick-53%
  • Newfoundland and Labrador-70%
  • Nova Scotia-82%
  • Ontario-96%
  • Prince Edward Island-89%
  • Quebec-91%
  • Saskatchewan-97%
  • Yukon-100%

Next to wireless alerts, the most popular distribution methods are third-party mobile apps and television.  Radio and social media are also ways that the alert was received.  57.8% of respondents report having received a real alert for a recent emergency in addition to the test alert. 

Comments on the Alert Ready system in general, and specifically about Amber alerts were received. Some respondents do not want to receive Amber alerts at all, or not at night.  Several think these alerts should be targeted to smaller regions. Many others support the use of Alert Ready for Amber alerts.

For those with issues receiving the alert:

  •  54% use Android devices 
  • 41.9% use Apple devices
  • 58% received a previous alert
  • 33.8% of respondents use Telus as their service provider, 30.3% use Bell and 13.4% use Rogers.

For those who do not have devices compatible with Alert Ready, Alertable is a great option to ensure that you still receive emergency alerts.  Alertable is able to send notifications in more than 15 different ways.  This allows increased recipient choice and increased compatibility with systems like Alert Ready.

Suggested Improvements:

One of the survey questions asked, “If you could improve one thing about emergency alerts what would it be?”  The following are the top five responses:

  • Be able to override device settings, specifically volume, vibrate and silence/do not disturb modes.
  • Change the sound. While some think it should be louder, most think it is too intrusive.  Different sounds should be used for different types of alerts.  For example, different tones for a test alert, an Amber Alert, or another type of emergency. 
  • Have the ability to opt-out of some or all alerts. Some respondents suggest having tiers of alerts, with the ability to disable tests and less severe alerts.
  • Ensure more people receive them and that more warning is given out ahead of the test alert.  Older cell phones and people without cell phones are examples of those not receiving alerts. Email and landline databases, downloadable apps, and social media are suggestions of possible solutions.
  • Improve the headline and description of the event.  The alert information should be more clear. Improving the content and display (e.g. including pictures, video, language translation, use rich text, etc) would be beneficial. A link should be provided to ensure people know where to go to get more information.

To read the Alert Ready test survey report in its entirety click here

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