Pelmorex Communication Inc.'s ("Pelmorex") National Alert Aggregation & Dissemination (NAAD) System provides Authorized Government Agencies across Canada with a simple, easily accessible means by which they can issue public safety messages. The NAAD System validates and authenticates the messages it receives to ensure they are from the participating government authority and are compliant with certain agreed to standards and policies. After this, the NAAD System then aggregates all the alert messages it receives from government authorities into a data stream which it distributes over the internet and by satellite ensuring coverage across Canada. This allows "Last Mile Distributors" like radio and TV broadcasters, cable and satellite operators to broadcast the alert messages.
The NAAD System allows Authorized Government Agencies to issue public safety messages. Typically however, an alert will be issued if there is imminent danger to persons or property. The scope is quite large and can cover things such as tornados, train derailments, industrial fires, water contamination, missing persons; the list is endless and is not limited to weather or environmental warnings.
Each province or territory will decide the level of authority it wants to delegate within its jurisdiction. For example, one province may decide that only one organization such as the provincial Emergency Management Office will have authority to issue an alert whereas another province may decide to allow local authorities such as, regional or municipal emergency management staff, police or fire departments to issue certain types of alerts. Certain federal authorities such as Environment Canada also access the NAAD System to distribute their weather warnings.
The amount and type of alerts issued will depend on the policies set by each province and the authority they delegate to other agencies and municipalities. However, the types of events that are severe enough to warrant alerts interrupting television or radio broadcasts are expected to be infrequent.
Participation by "Last Mile Distributors" is purely voluntary.
The issuing government authority will determine what areas are affected by the alert message they are issuing. They will use an agreed to coding system established by Statistics Canada called the Standard Geographical Code. These codes typically correspond to census divisions and sub-divisions usually along municipal boundaries. The use of these codes will allow participating radio, TV, cable and satellite companies to identify and broadcast the alerts that are most relevant to the communities they serve.
It is possible for multiple alert messages to be issued related to the same event because the event touches on the mandate and responsibilities of more than one government body or because the nature of the event changes over time. However, emergency management officials are experts in their respective areas and coordinate activities, including public alerting very closely. In fact, most government authorities will be watching the NAAD System alerting data feed to monitor the warnings issued by other neighbouring authorities.
When a government authority issues an alert it must also determine and rank the severity of the event, the urgency of the message and the certainty that the event will occur. These parameters together, along with the nature or type of event, will help establish the manner in which the alert is dealt with and whether it will interrupt television or radio broadcasts.
Government authorities must set an expiry time for every alert they issue. In addition they may cancel an alert anytime they wish if the situation is "all-clear" prior to the expiry of the alert.
While composing an alert, government authorities can change and alter the content of the message anytime they wish. If an alert is actually issued by the government authority in error, they can cancel it at any time.
The respective government agencies have exclusive control over who has access to issue an alert on their behalf.
At this time there is no rule as to how often an alert will be broadcast as participation by the local radio, TV, cable or satellite companies is voluntary.
Until now there has been no national system to broadcast alerts. The Weather Network and MétéoMédia have always broadcast severe weather warnings for Environment Canada and will continue to do so as either a full page text message or as a scrolling display at the bottom of the page. It is expected that participating TV, cable and satellite companies will do something similar. Participating radio stations will play the audio messages where they are available.
The manner in which alerts will be broadcast is left to the discretion of the local television broadcaster, cable or satellite TV distributor. In most cases a crawl across the top or bottom of the screen or a full page display is expected.
The NAAD System and government authorities take security very seriously. In addition to the security measures that government agencies take every day to ensure access to their system is by authorized personnel only, additional login passwords and user identification is needed to access the NAAD System. Separately, Pelmorex's NAAD System has measures to prevent unauthorized access by hackers or others. Finally, each individual message issued over the NAAD System will have a unique digital certificate to ensure its authenticity.
The NAAD System allows government authorities to include an audio version of their alert messages which can be broadcast by radio and television stations, cable and satellite operators, etc.
Occasionally there will be test messages issued by government authorities. These test messages will be clearly identified as such.
At the discretion of the government authority, alerts can be issued in languages other than English or French. Distribution of these messages to the public will be up to the individual TV, radio, cable or satellite operator.
Individual government authorities may make these types of services available for the alert messages that they issue, but there are no plans for a single national toll free number to include all alert messages.
Distribution of alert messages to the public by radio and TV stations, cable and satellite operators and telephone and cellular phone is voluntary. Over time it is expected that many will do so. It is also expected that "value-added" services like subscription text messages or emails services will be developed.
Once an authorized government agency issues an alert message to the NAAD System it should be available to Last Mile Distributors within seconds.
If an Authorized Government Agency does not comply with the agreed to standards the NAAD System will not accept their message and they will know immediately the message was rejected along with an indication or what needs to be corrected. If at some other point in the processing of the alert message the NAAD System must reject the message, then the issuing agency is notified immediately.
Yes, government authorities can issue as many alert messages as they deem appropriate in the circumstances. The NAAD System is designed to support the dissemination of multiple messages should this occur.
All alert messages are archived for seven years.
Previously issued alert messages can be seen on the RSS feed for 48 hours after it has been issued. As well, all alerts are archived indefinitely on the Archived Alert Messages section on this web site.
Government authorities will, as appropriate, include instruction to the public in the alerts they issue.
Issuing authorities may include reference within their alert to websites to get additional information. As well, it is expected that conventional TV and radio broadcasters will cover events as they occur.
The NAAD System was designed and is operated by Pelmorex Communications Inc. which is the parent company that also owns and operates The Weather Network and MétéoMédia.