Bell Canada recently publicized an emergency alert system similar to the one responsible for the nuclear false alarm in Hawaii. We thought it would be valuable to understand how iSIGN’s SAM system would work with Bell’s offering, and how it contrasts in features.
SAM covers far more area than AlertReady
The Bell system is not local enough and not wide-area enough. Stuck in the middle, the Bell system will alert people in a town or city, but not focused enough to address a building or campus. For example, you can receive tornado alerts for a city or county, but it is not set up to deliver alerts about the situation on a campus or stadium or hospital. You will also not receive messages that would impact a family member who is far away or travelling or in another state or province. As an illustration of range, the AlertReady system reaches a band between 30 and 300 miles, not less than 30 miles and not over 300 miles. These numbers are not accurate, but are intended to illustrate the limitation of being stuck in the middle of a band. An exception is Federal Government alerts that may be broadcast country-wide.
Compare this with SAM’s reach from 30 feet to around the world, making SAM’s coverage effectively unlimited. It is also worthwhile to note that SAM works where there is no cellular coverage.
Who is in control?
The AlertReady system is administered by government officials, whose committees decide on the type of warning that is required based on pass-along information reported from remote sources, similar to the system recently activated in Hawaii. In contrast, SAM is administered locally by the facility owner/operator, so alerts are based on firsthand access to information and instantly delivered. Alerts will be specific and accurate based on the near proximity, and able to be rescinded or cancelled immediately.
Only the federal, provincial and municipal governments have access to AlertReady for government approved alerts. The most frequent alerts you would receive would be from Environment Canada and Climate Change Canada.
Who gets in the way?
The AlertReady system required information be two-stepped through different media organizations to activate the alert. It is a rather confusing coordination of responsibilities and tasks similar to the Hawaii incident. Aside from the few phones capable of receiving the alerts, the messages would be relayed to radio, TV, cable & satellite and websites for rebroadcasting, but the individual re-broadcaster can decide whether they want to rebroadcast the alert. For example, a campus radio station would be required to re-broadcast a climate change warning for the country, but not a report of an active shooter on the same campus.
Who can(‘t) receive alerts?
AlertReady is only capable of reaching a very limited number of devices. For a device to receive alerts, it must be LTE/4G, AND have WPA capability, AND be on the cellular network. The list of phones that will work currently with AlertReady is 13, and Apple is not one of listed capable phones. This limits the effectiveness of the system dramatically. In several years (3 to 5) the AlertReady system will be receivable by 60% of the population. The 13 phones listed include 1 Alcatel, 1 Blackberry, 2 Huawei, 2 LG, 1 Sony and 6 Samsung phones.
It also has some unusual limitations. For example, if you are on a phone call, or using data for some function, AlertReady will not interrupt your activity until you end the call, leaving you unaware of the danger. Also, if you miss an alert, and the alert is cancelled before you are able to receive it, you will be unaware. This is problematic in situations like a flash flood, where if you are away, you would not know your house had possibly flooded until you return home or are informed by someone.
SAM reaches nearly every phone. That would include LTE, 3G, CDMA, GSM or any phone that is still capable of receiving SMS text messages. In addition, the alert methods that SAM delivers that AlertReady does not includes WiFi, Bluetooth, BLE (beacons), Digital Signage screens, text to voice, social media and the SAM app. And for older phones that are still in use, SAM’s Bluetooth Push system provides coverage through the Smart Antenna.
Is anybody out there?
It must be understood that even though AlertReady is using the cellular LTE system only, it is not really a cellular telephone feature. Cellular telephone would normally make a one to one connection with your phone number. AlertReady is a broadcast using a special method, so similar to talking on a CB or HAM radio, it broadcasts to everyone in range without ever knowing who received the broadcast. Like listening to AM radio in your car, you can be anywhere within broadcast range and nobody will be able to find you or even know if the broadcast was received by anyone.
The SAM system can localize phones, so that if the phone’s user were incapacitated, they could be rescued. SAM alerts can go out to everyone, or to just a selected group based on any combination of characteristics.
AlertReady is a decent accessory to add to SAM. It would be especially helpful to those interested in climate change alerts, since it is not likely that any SAM operator would have a reason to send out an alert about a melting iceberg or wildlife habitat impact. But remember, to receive the AlertReady messages, you must have one of the 13 phones currently listed.
Click anywhere on this post for the SAM brochure that LED Solutions, our Canadian reseller, and iSIGN recently prepared for LED's wholly owned subsidiary, Push Digital Media. This brochure is being forwarded to the existing client base and sales prospects of both LED and Push Media.
As a result of reaching out to the School Board yesterday with an offer to install our SAM, at no cost, into Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School, we were asked by reply to complete their Vendor Registration Application. This is a quick first step towards being able to sell our SAM technology for use at their 310 schools and education centers, with approximately 270,000 students.
As announced on March 2, our reseller Rich Multimedia Technologies had been invited to present to the Orange County Department of Education and Orange Unified School District at a security information session entitled "Active Shooter Response Presentation for Parents". This was a session that included a panel discussion with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the Anaheim Police, parents and teachers.
As a result of RMT's presentation it was requested and agreed that separate meetings would be held between RMT and each separate group (the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the Anaheim Police, parents and teachers) for more in-depth discussions with each group. These one-on-one meetings have been scheduled to start next Tuesday (March 13).
Orange County and Orange Unified School Districts have approximately 40,000 students enrolled.