I’m ready for Alert Ready
While the test last week didn’t go all that smoothly, those in Ontario had the first real trial of the new Alert Ready system on May 14 with an Amber Alert of a child allegedly abducted from Thunder Bay.
Then came the outrage. Taking all the complaints with a grain of salt (seeing as those who had a negative reaction are more likely to complain), criticism ranged from the loud noise, the excessive amount of notifications and of course the complainers’ distance from where the alert originated.
(Side note: Amber Alerts aren’t activated for every missing child. It takes a lot of effort of the police to determine if the child has been abducted and in danger. In the meantime, that child could be anywhere, hence the province-wide alert.)
When our phones light up and emit the alert tone that everyone felt was “annoying,” it means there is a threat to life, whether that’s natural, biological, civil or hazardous. This time around it was an Amber Alert; next time could be a chemical spill or tornado.
When something happens, many of us turn to social media to find out what happened, what areas are affected and how we can help. Later, people tend to question why they weren’t notified sooner. With Alert Ready the information is coming directly to us and will still be broadcast on TV, radio and social media for those with older phones.
These alerts aren’t meant to be a nuisance, but instead, potentially life-saving. And when a child’s life is at risk, then a moment of my time to acknowledge and react to the alert is worth it.
On Monday, Ontarians across the province received their first true Alert Ready notice to their cell phone.
Wait … that’s only true for some.
I am one of the smartphone carrying folks who did not receive the alert.
I did not receive the test alerts either. But that was expected. I had an older model iPhone that wasn’t compatible, but by Monday I had upgraded to a newer model – one newer than my coworkers who were receiving the alerts. After some sleuthing I realized I needed to turn on the LTE network. Still nothing. I missed the next alert. Finally I turn my phone off and back on. Success – I received the cancelled alert.
While it’s important to easily inform the public about emergencies, it’s equally important to ensure the entire population is included.
While researching why my phone was a dud, I learned there are few smartphones that actually make the cut.
Really? People who aren’t into upgrading to the latest and greatest phone model are left in the dust?
I also read the FAQ section. If a cell tower comes down, will the alerts still broadcast? The answer was no.
What use is a tornado warning to me if I’m not going to get it because the twister already took out the cell tower? While experimenting with a new public alert method is commendable, maybe Alert Ready could have been a little more developed and a little more inclusive before being introduced to a subset of the population.