Public alerting

Canada is developing a National Public Alerting System (NPAS) that enables designated government authorities using AM/FM radio and television through terrestrial, cable and satellite channels to warn the public of imminent or unfolding dangers to life. Background information about NPAS is available on the National Public Alerting System web page.

As the system expands to include other technologies such as wireless telecommunications, alerting messages will reach the public using more dynamic and advanced technologies.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada provides technical assistance to Public Safety Canada for public alerting technologies and standard development initiatives. We welcome participation from public alerting service providers, technology developers and wireless infrastructure operators who have a common interest in advancing Canada's public alerting capability.

If you have any questions regarding Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada's initiative in NPAS, please contact us at Public Alerting.

Wireless Public Alerting Service — A Pilot for Effective Emergency Public Alerting

The Wireless Public Alerting Service (WPAS) project is a three‑year federal government‑led initiative that aims to develop and demonstrate an effective solution for emergency wireless public alerting. The main objective of the project is to define, design, develop, test and pilot a wireless public alerting service using cell broadcast technologyFootnote 1 over the long‑term evolution (LTE) standardFootnote 2 and integrating the service with the National Public Alerting System (NPAS).Footnote 3 The technology used meets the expectations and requirements defined by Canadian federal/provincial/territorial (F/P/T) alerting authorities.

During the pilot phase, WPAS allows public alerting authorities to broadcast emergency alerts to a defined geographic area, which can be as small as a few city blocks, such that only people in the defined area will receive the alerts. Cell phones in the targeted area will receive the alerts within seconds of being issued, provided the phones are powered on and have the cell broadcast feature enabled.

The pilot WPAS alerts are sent by alerting authorities and are based on the urgency, certainty and severity of the threat. Alerts could include information on wildfires, tornadoes, chemical spills, train derailments, Amber Alerts or water contamination.

The WPAS project, which began in May 2014, is managed by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED). It is funded through the Canadian Safety and Security Program (CSSP), a federal program led by Defence Research and Development Canada's (DRDC) Centre for Security Science, in partnership with Public Safety Canada. Project partners include Bell Mobility, Pelmorex Media Inc., Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management Ontario, Ontario Power Generation, Public Safety Canada, and Mobility & Wireless Solutions.

Questions regarding the WPAS project can be directed to Public Alerting.

More information on the WPAS project is provided on the Wireless Public Alerting Service — FAQ page.

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