Technical problem caused bug in TV alert system for some people in Red Deer

Shaw testing system to ensure it doesn’t repeat

Problems with broadcasting emergency alert notifications recently in Red Deer have been traced back to a technical problem, a spokesman for Shaw Communications said.

On July 9, a number of people were reporting on social media that the Alberta Emergency Alert system was not displaying properly on their television screens.

“We had people over to watch a recorded movie on our Gateway and at least seven times the movie was disrupted by a black screen with the occasional Alert partial screen.

The problem was it took four to five minutes each time to regain control of the Gateway and twice we had to eventually pull the power on the portal to get it working again,” one person reported.

Other people also reported black screens, distorted sound, and pixelated screens.

“Never worked on our tv either all broken up, kind of annoying and hard to take serious really.”

Several tornado watches and warning was issued in Central Alberta that evening.

Chetham Lakshman, vice-president of External Affairs for Shaw, said that a technical failure prevented the alert message from being broadcast to Red Deer customers, as well as some in north Calgary.

“We regret the failure and we are looking further into its cause, and will be testing the system in the coming days to ensure we’re able to prevent such an incident from happening again,” he said.

The Alberta Emergency Alert system falls under Alberta Municipal Affairs Department, and is managed by The Alberta Emergency Management Agency.

Alberta Emergency Alert can be followed on its website or through Facebook and Twitter. The AEA app can also be downloaded.

Municipal Affairs reported that on July 9 there were 57 radio and television broadcasters that received and distributed the tornado alert messages in the affected areas, of the 147 broadcasters who participate in Alberta.

The province is working towards new technology to issue these kind of very serious alert messages directly to smartphones in the impacted area, Melinda Steenbergen, press secretary for the Minister of Municipal Affairs said.

barr@reddeeradvocate.com

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