Next tsunami alert will be on your phone

Emergency Management BC will test the new Alert Ready system on cell phones staring May 9

A new smartphone alert system being introduced by the government of B.C. is only equipped for warnings about tsunamis — but alerts about wildfires and other emergencies may soon be coming to your mobile device. That’s according to Ian Lightbody, director of projects for Emergency Management BC.

The first public test of the system is scheduled for 1:55 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9. An alert is expected to be sent to smartphones throughout the province, along with simultaneous radio and television warnings.

The test run is meant to help resolve any technical issues that may arise with the system before it is extended to include other types of emergencies, said Lightbody.

He couldn’t give an exact date about when non-tsunami emergencies would be integrated into the system, called Alert Ready, but said he’s hoping it will take place “in the next year or two.”

The system is more geographically specific than other alert systems, such as radio and television broadcasts, since warnings about actual emergencies will only go to people connected to networks in targeted areas, he said. “Only phones that are connected to those towers are alerted,” said Lightbody.

But phones will need to be connected to a cell phone tower, meaning that places without connectivity won’t benefit from the message.

Another weakness of the system is that people won’t hear the alert sound — a piercing siren — if their phone is on silent or “do not disturb” mode. And that’s a problem that will have to be solved in collaboration with phone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung, he said.

You can check your phone’s compatibility at

-With files from Keili Bartlett, Prince Rupert Northern View

Emergency PreparednessJennifer RiceTsunamitsunami alert

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

Community outbreak of COVID-19 confirmed on Haida Gwaii

Contact tracing has confirmed a total of 13 cases, according to Northern Health

Burns Lake couple escapes the Econo Lodge Fire in time

Escapes unharmed but loses their belongings

Travelling nuns spark social media panic in Burns Lake

The six Catholic nuns with Alberta plates were seen driving around from Prince Rupert to Burns Lake

Betty Stewart, the champion for Burns Lake’s only accessible playground

The woman who considers herself as just a coordinator while the community recognizes her efforts

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

Most Read