A $1-million dollar initial investment will help to develop the first phase of a new emergency notification management hub and a mobile alerting app to continue to improve disaster preparedness in B.C.
The funding, made possible by the Province's Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) with TELUS, will help Emergency Management BC (EMBC) to enhance the reach of public alerting by improving the speed that alerts can be sent, automating the distribution of emergency alerting across multiple channels, and increasing the types of alerts that can be delivered to cover a variety of disasters and hazards.
The new and enhanced alert management hub, which is anticipated to be implemented over the next two years, will allow for:
- Faster creation of emergency alerts by EMBC or another authorized user.
- The ability to identify the geographic area of the emergency event and focus distribution to ensure the message is delivered only to affected areas.
- Translation of messages into appropriate formats for distribution over multiple notification channels (e.g. smartphone app, radio, television, etc.).
- Integration with the national Alert Ready notification system which feeds emergency alerts to radio and television stations which, in turn, immediately broadcast them.
The new system will allow alerts to be open to select third parties, such as Alert Ready and Environment Canada, which will be able to subscribe to alerts and publish them on their own distribution channels.
The mobile alerting app is planned for a variety of different devices, and will be developed to work with multiple operating systems, as well as on all B.C. telecommunication carriers.
The SIF was created to fund provincial government initiatives aimed at transforming and improving government service delivery to families and businesses throughout B.C.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton -
“With the recent tragedy in Nepal, we were reminded of the devastating impact of a major earthquake. Keeping communities informed quickly with critical emergency information will be an important step in ensuring public safety for British Columbia when the ‘big one’ - or any major disaster - hits here at home. With this new alerting hub, EMBC will be able to ensure that a single message is created faster and delivered consistently to reach more British Columbians directly.”
Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services Amrik Virk -
“This new investment is an important expansion of our communications and emergency infrastructure. Our Strategic Investment Fund with TELUS helps fund transformative information management and information technology projects, such as this one improving safety and communications in communities throughout the province.”
TELUS chief corporate officer Josh Blair -
“More and more British Columbians rely on their mobile devices for breaking news and alerts. Working with the Province and Emergency Management BC to complement TV and radio broadcast alerts with instant messages on wireless devices will help get critical information out to the public and emergency service providers faster and more thoroughly when seconds count. This project will help save lives.”
Cariboo Regional District chair Al Richmond -
“On behalf of the Cariboo Regional District, I applaud the Province of B.C. for implementing this new mass notification system. I am sure it will be truly beneficial to residents of B.C. and the Cariboo Chilcotin. This program, similar to the new Cariboo Chilcotin Emergency Notification System which was launched in our region on May 5, will enhance one and other in providing residents with urgent and vital information during an emergency situation.”
Canadian Red Cross B.C. & Yukon director Kimberley Nemrava -
“Our experience has shown that communications is an essential and life-saving component of disaster response. For several years, TELUS has been supporting the Red Cross TELUS Call Centre, which has activated to support disasters in B.C. and abroad. We applaud this new partnership with TELUS and the B.C. government to allow them to reach British Columbians quickly to help keep them safe.”
- Along with investments in capacity - including additional logistics and operations staff and increased capacity for provincial level emergency exercises and training - the Province continues to improve disaster preparedness in British Columbia by:
- Recent upgrades to the Provincial Emergency Notification System (PENS).
- Participating in the development and implementation of the Alert Ready national public alerting system to broadcast alerts through radio and television.
- Analyzing the future of 911 call answer service throughout B.C. for improved service delivery.
- Drafting the first iteration of the B.C. Earthquake Immediate Response Plan.
- Proactively reaching out to the public through EMBC’s social media public education channels.
- EMBC has also created and updated resources to help British Columbians prepare for a disaster: the Earthquake and Tsunami Smart Manual, the “PreparedBC: Household Preparedness Guide” and the “In it Together: Neighbourhood Preparedness Guide” are all available on the PreparedBC website.
EMBC’s 2014-15 -2016-17 strategic plan: http://bit.ly/1BnaQjC
Emergency alerts and information are also delivered via:
- Alert Ready in B.C.: http://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/prevention-preparation/
- Emergency Info BC: www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca
- Drive BC: www.drivebc.ca
- Wildfire Management Branch: www.bcwildfire.ca
- River Forecast Centre: http://bcrfc.env.gov.bc.ca/
- Environment Canada: http://www.ec.gc.ca/
- Intergovernmental Oceanic Commission: https://lists.unesco.org/wws/subscribe/tsunami-information-ioc
- Pacific Tsunami Warning Center: http://ptwc.weather.gov/?region=0
- U.S. Geological Survey: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes
National Emergency Preparedness Week, May 3-9: http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/EPweek
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice