Canada has a new Alert system – which has all the failings of all the others

I’ve noticed that Canada has a new Alert system which includes the electronic media. It’s a welcome step, and I cant understand why it took so long to organise.

http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/mrgnc-mngmnt/mrgnc-prprdnss/ntnl-pblc-lrtng-sstm-eng.aspx

I have no other information than what’s in the web site, but here are some views of mine:

It’s a step forward but doesn’t go far enough.

It seems the warnings will be issued on phones, but it’s not entirely clear.

Warnings broadcasts should be compulsory not voluntary, as it’s the only way to develop a reliable system. The evidence from the US is quite clear – e3letronic media ignore warnings if they are voluntary. see here: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2013/db0412/DOC-320152A1.pdf

There should be some sort of audio attached to the warnings.

The warnings should be scalable, but they aren’t.

The use of the third party to distribute warnings is a waste of taxpayers funds. The media should pay as there is significant economic and profit benefit if they broadcast warnings (apart from Canadian Broadcast Corporation or public broadcasters)

There is no digital or web based activity listed. This suggests to me that the warnings system isn’t fully integrated. That usually results in mixed messages and different approaches to the same event.

The media isn’t being seen as a “stakeholder in community safety” – again, just a disseminator. This is the critical cultural change that must be made if emergency agencies want to unleash the full benefit of the reach and power of electronic media (and ensure the media wears some of the cost).

I’ll be interested to see how it goes.

Ian

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