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Amber Alerts


Userlevel 1
I was watching a news story about today's Amber Alert in Ontario, that one at 5AM that woke up a LOT of people. The news story said that comments should be directed to the service provider, not the police (and of course not to 911). Since I'm a Koodo customer, I'm posting here.

I have no problem with getting Amber Alerts on my phone and doing my bit to help track down a missing child and I understand that these situations are urgent and will sometimes take place at inconvenient hours; that's how life is sometimes and a missing child is worth some special effort. I also understand that the police don't always have a clear - or correct idea - of where the child or parent is or is headed. That means we may get notifications that are quite distant from where we actually live. That too is a reality and I accept it.

However, I do think the Amber Alert system could be better and wanted to ask if some changes are possible?
  1. I got TWO alerts this morning for the same child; one was in English only, the other was in English and French. They were roughly 40 minutes apart and caused me to be woken AGAIN. I get that some Ontarians are more comfortable in French than English - although every Northern Ontarian I ever met was fluent in both languages - so could the system possibly be changed so that only ONE alert was issued and that was the one that was bilingual?
  2. In my case - I don't know about anyone else - the first alert repeated again and again and again at short intervals - 2 minutes? 5 minutes? - until I got out of bed and finally clicked the OK button. I don't know if that was a phone setting or something forced by the Amber Alert setting but I'd dearly love for that behaviour to stop! PLEASE, let it appear ONCE and then stop nagging me and NOT force me to get out of bed to shut it off. Then there's a reasonable chance that I can fall back asleep. I have huge problems getting back to sleep when woken in the middle of the night and it messes up my whole day. I already have the volume of my phone set quite low and I might actually manage a decent night's sleep if the buzzing would stop fairly promptly. In all honesty, I am unlikely to get out of bed in the middle of the night to go stand on my porch to see if the abductor's vehicle just happens to pass by in front of my house, especially when it is believed to be a long way from here, like Sudbury. I'm even less likely to hop into my vehicle and drive many kilometers to the expected path of the abductor to see if I can spot his or her license plate.
  3. Is there any possibility that the Amber Alert system can detect that a given phone is stationary and hasn't moved in, say, an hour and then NOT call that number? That would almost certainly be someone that is asleep and unlikely to be watching for the missing vehicle who might NEED that sleep to function the next day.
Let me stress again that I'm not against Amber Alerts! I'd just like to see if they can be made a little less disruptive to several millions Ontarians who had no realistic prospect of being able to do anything to help.

I'm happy to say that the little boy who was the subject of this morning's alert was found, with his mother, alive and well and the whole thing was just a misunderstanding. That's great! But I know these things don't always turn out quite so well; an Amber Alert a couple of months back turned into a dead child; I believe the abductor, the father, also took his own life. I understand the importance of these alerts and the potential to prevent tragedies. I would simply like the system to reduce the scope of the alerts to people who have at least some potential to help, if that's possible.
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Best answer by Rhino 18 May 2019, 00:12

Allan M: I found the settings you've identified through a different forum. I did NOT turn off Amber Alerts entirely. I found a *different* setting on the page BEFORE the one you show which controls the number of repetitions of the alert. That page is called Emergency Alert Settings and the setting itself is called "Alert Reminder". It was set to "every 2 minutes" as default so I changed it to "once". That is *exactly* what I wanted. It will tell me ONCE that there was an Alert (any kind of alert, not just an Amber Alert) and then stop, giving me some hope of being able to get back to sleep without having to get out of bed without acknowledging the alert if it comes in the middle of the night. (Of course if this alert is immediate relevant to me, like a gas leak in my neighbourhood or a tornado warning, I may live to regret reducing my reminder setting to once!)

As for Timo's point, he may be right that this setting is ignored in Canada due to the CRTC's rules; I won't know about that until the next alert.
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Userlevel 7
Badge +4
Not much to add except ack... all that at 5 am?? I'd be P-ed off too!
Userlevel 7
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"The CRTC requires wireless service providers to distribute alerts on all compatible wireless devices connected to an LTE network in the target area."
https://www.alertready.ca/#contact

You're gonna have to submit your complaints to the CRTC, not Koodo.
The only real work around would be to turn off your phone at night. Airplane mode may have the same effect.
Userlevel 1
The first alert was at exactly 5:00; the bilingual version was at 5:49.

Again, I really wouldn't mind if I'd actually been in a position to help but all it did was reinforce my insomnia. (Insomnia is not always an inability to fall asleep; it can also be an inability to get back to sleep or sleep enough. I have the latter kind.)

In this case, I literally could not have helped other than by standing in front of my house; my car is in the shop and I don't get it back tomorrow so even if they wanted volunteers to spread themselves out on the 401, I would have had no way to get there. But of course they didn't know that nor could they be expected to know that.
Userlevel 7
Badge +4
Setting the phone to do not disturb will block emergency alerts from making any sound at all other than vibration. This setting will typically still allow calls to get through if the same number calls twice within a minute.
Userlevel 1
Thanks for that information, Allan. Clearly, the reporter who said service providers were the ones to talk to about the Amber Alert system was wrong. (No, I'm not shocked given the state of journalism.)

My apologies for wasting anyone's time. I'll have to send my suggestions to the CRTC where I expect them to vanish like they were never made....
Userlevel 5
A child's life is more important than anything. If a brain surgeon's life is in danger, no big deal, but if a child's life is in danger, everyone must pause their lives, wake up if needed, and be alert. The child will be a great contributor to the society in the future for sure. - CRTC

Switch your phone to 3G at night so they can't blast your phone for someone else's domestic dispute.
Userlevel 7
Badge +4
Sounds like more of an issue with the way you have your phones settings and the ability to silent or block.
The alert went out twice and I rolled over and looked and prayed the child was ok and went back to sleep no biggy my kids wake me up more than a 5 second alert. I don't think you have any legitimate arguments that the crtc will take into account. You're taking more time complaining than just looking and possibly doing your part to save a child,
Userlevel 1
What are you suggesting I should have done to help find the child, triggered123? It was on a bus from Sudbury to Toronto. I live in Kitchener. Sitting outside my door in the middle of the night on the off chance that a bus from Sudbury to Toronto passed by my door so that I could call my local police would have been an exercise in futility.

Let's say I'd had my car. Would you say that I needed to get in and drive to somewhere on the 400 and watch all the traffic and then call the police whenever I saw a highway coach?

Or let's say the abductor was believed to be driving east from Toronto, as was the case where the child was abducted by its father. As it turned out, the father drove northwest (to Orangeville), not east, but it took several hours to determine that. How should I have helped then? Just staked out a corner to watch for the license plate that was posted in the alert? And where should I have positioned myself in that case? Here in Kitchener? Toronto where he had originated?

We all want to help a child in distress but what action are you proposing that we take in such cases that has any REALISTIC chance of success?

If I were actually up and about and in the area where the child was believe to be, sure, it makes good sense to tell me about it with an Amber Alert so that I can watch for the vehicle in question but it's just not realistic to expect every living cell phone owner in Ontario to get out of bed in the middle of the night to watch for a vehicle that is probably hundreds of kilometers away.
Userlevel 7
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What are you suggesting I should have done to help find the child, triggered123? It was on a bus from Sudbury to Toronto. I live in Kitchener. Sitting outside my door in the middle of the night on the off chance that a bus from Sudbury to Toronto passed by my door so that I could call my local police would have been an exercise in futility.

Let's say I'd had my car. Would you say that I needed to get in and drive to somewhere on the 400 and watch all the traffic and then call the police whenever I saw a highway coach?

Or let's say the abductor was believed to be driving east from Toronto, as was the case where the child was abducted by its father. As it turned out, the father drove northwest (to Orangeville), not east, but it took several hours to determine that. How should I have helped then? Just staked out a corner to watch for the license plate that was posted in the alert? And where should I have positioned myself in that case? Here in Kitchener? Toronto where he had originated?

We all want to help a child in distress but what action are you proposing that we take in such cases that has any REALISTIC chance of success?

If I were actually up and about and in the area where the child was believe to be, sure, it makes good sense to tell me about it with an Amber Alert so that I can watch for the vehicle in question but it's just not realistic to expect every living cell phone owner in Ontario to get out of bed in the middle of the night to watch for a vehicle that is probably hundreds of kilometers away.

He was being sarcastic
Userlevel 1
Thank you, Robert T. I didn't get that the first time I read it but, on re-reading it, I think you're right. I suppose I've gotten used to people using tags.

I wonder how many people will actually complain to the CRTC? I wonder if the CRTC wil change how this system works to make it a little more realistic?
Userlevel 7
Badge +4
Thank you, Robert T. I didn't get that the first time I read it but, on re-reading it, I think you're right. I suppose I've gotten used to people using tags.

I wonder how many people will actually complain to the CRTC? I wonder if the CRTC wil change how this system works to make it a little more realistic?

Everytime an amber alert comes out and people complain Im sure the CRTC sees some of it.

If the CRTC is like me, they will roll their eyes and mostly ignore it.

If the CRTC is really trying to listen and improve, they may release a statement with tips and tricks about what to do to prevent disruption.
Somethings are in their control and some are not. Wireless emergency alerts run on a somewhat standard system, and changing a standard system would be incredibly difficult, especially if the reason is for convenience/disruption of sleep.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_Emergency_Alerts

If you dont want to be woken up, you can do what @triggered123 said and turn off LTE, or you can place your phone on silent before bed or after the first disruption.
Ive said this in the community before, but I had an amber alert occur in the middle of the movie. Everyone had their phone on silent or vibrate and not a since noise from a cellphone was heard
Userlevel 1
I really don't want to oppose the Amber Alerts, just make them less disruptive for people that have no realistic chance to help when they occur. I'm a technical guy so I get that there are things you can and can't do. I'd like to think it can be better than it is.
Userlevel 7
Badge +4
I really don't want to oppose the Amber Alerts, just make them less disruptive for people that have no realistic chance to help when they occur. I'm a technical guy so I get that there are things you can and can't do. I'd like to think it can be better than it is.
It might be beyond their control as they do not own the standard. They just make use of it 😫
Userlevel 7
Badge +4
Thank you, Robert T. I didn't get that the first time I read it but, on re-reading it, I think you're right. I suppose I've gotten used to people using tags.

I wonder how many people will actually complain to the CRTC? I wonder if the CRTC wil change how this system works to make it a little more realistic?

If no one make any complaint, thwey won't listen. If it annoys you, i would spend a 5 min in order to write that complaint.
Userlevel 7
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The emergency alert system is designed to allow people to opt out of certain alerts. Canadian authorities, however, have decreed that alerts must be sent at the highest level possible, thereby preventing anyone from opting out.
Userlevel 7
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Check your settings, just stumbled across this.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4
Check your settings, just stumbled across this.


I've tried it. It doesn't work in Canada. Apparently the CRTC mandated that all alerts be sent out at what in the US would be called the presidential alert level, which is unblockable.
Userlevel 1
Allan M: I found the settings you've identified through a different forum. I did NOT turn off Amber Alerts entirely. I found a *different* setting on the page BEFORE the one you show which controls the number of repetitions of the alert. That page is called Emergency Alert Settings and the setting itself is called "Alert Reminder". It was set to "every 2 minutes" as default so I changed it to "once". That is *exactly* what I wanted. It will tell me ONCE that there was an Alert (any kind of alert, not just an Amber Alert) and then stop, giving me some hope of being able to get back to sleep without having to get out of bed without acknowledging the alert if it comes in the middle of the night. (Of course if this alert is immediate relevant to me, like a gas leak in my neighbourhood or a tornado warning, I may live to regret reducing my reminder setting to once!)

As for Timo's point, he may be right that this setting is ignored in Canada due to the CRTC's rules; I won't know about that until the next alert.
Userlevel 7
Badge +4
Allan M: I found the settings you've identified through a different forum. I did NOT turn off Amber Alerts entirely. I found a *different* setting on the page BEFORE the one you show which controls the number of repetitions of the alert. That page is called Emergency Alert Settings and the setting itself is called "Alert Reminder". It was set to "every 2 minutes" as default so I changed it to "once". That is *exactly* what I wanted. It will tell me ONCE that there was an Alert (any kind of alert, not just an Amber Alert) and then stop, giving me some hope of being able to get back to sleep without having to get out of bed without acknowledging the alert if it comes in the middle of the night. (Of course if this alert is immediate relevant to me, like a gas leak in my neighbourhood or a tornado warning, I may live to regret reducing my reminder setting to once!)

As for Timo's point, he may be right that this setting is ignored in Canada due to the CRTC's rules; I won't know about that until the next alert.

That's why I keep my phone near me at night. You never know.

PS : If it's an important neighbourhood alert, you might not live to regret so you're gonna be ok 😉 (knock on wood)
Userlevel 5
That page is called Emergency Alert Settings and the setting itself is called "Alert Reminder". It was set to "every 2 minutes" as default so I changed it to "once". That is *exactly* what I wanted. It will tell me ONCE that there was an Alert (any kind of alert, not just an Amber Alert) and then stop, giving me some hope of being able to get back to sleep without having to get out of bed without acknowledging the alert if it comes in the middle of the night.
Remind once = alert twice (initial + reminder)

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