photo_heartland_101_201605

Heartland 101 May 2016: Location-Based Wireless Public Alerting – Have Your Say

photo_heartland_101_201605It’s technology that exists today and is used in many countries, but surprisingly not in Canada. It’s the Wireless Public Alerting Service (WPAS), and until May 30th, Canadians have an opportunity to support its implementation in a Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) public consultation.

WPAS allows emergency response authorities to target phones in a specific geographic area facing an imminent threat. Alerts are sent without people having to register their devices.

Canada has fallen behind many nations in its progression and use of cellular technology as a tool to carry Public Alerts. This can be changed by submitting an intervention using the CRTC’s online Intervention Comment Form found at www.crtc.gc.ca. In the drop-down box, indicate your support for (or opposition to) Wireless Public Alerts. Comments and support letters can also be submitted online.

Effective public alerting about hazards has never been more urgent. Severe weather, fires and floods, dangerous goods incidents and even acts of terrorism are real life scenarios in Canada. Often, response authorities have little time to warn those in close range to take necessary safety precautions.

The Heartland region’s mutual aid emergency response organization, NRCAER, supports WPAS and is urging individuals to make their voice heard on the issue. “People today are mobile – on the move, and cellular technology keeps pace with them,” says Brenda Gheran, Executive Director with NRCAER. “Whether it’s a flood in Alberta or a tornado in Ontario – if your phone is there, an alert would appear on it. In our region, WPA enhances safety not only for residents, but also thousands of people who work at local industries, or drive through our communities each day.”

In 2014, 55% of Canadians owned smart phones. That number rose to 68% over 2015, which makes mobile devices the leading choice for delivering alerts. “Participation of Wireless Service Providers is critical in order to have success. As wireless customers, this is something we all should expect; however, unless public support is demonstrated in the CRTC process, it may be several years before it becomes a reality. That simply isn’t good enough when the technology is here, now,” Gheran cautions.

For more information about emergency response, notification, and safety in the region, visit www.nrcaer.com. For more information about Life in the Heartland, visit lifeintheheartland.com, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or email info@lifeintheheartland.com.