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New provincial emergency alert system to include social media
Published Tuesday, August 23, 2011 5:33PM MDT
Alberta's new Emergency Alert system will use digital technology including social media to warn the public in an emergency or disaster.
The province says a public education campaign began August 1st, which encourages Albertans to visit the province's new dedicated website as well as Facebook and Twitter pages. The first province-wide test of the new system is scheduled for mid-September. The province has spent the last few weeks training people on how to use the new system.
This comes three months after wildfires ravaged the community of Slave Lake.
The province says information alerts are issued through social media and the website to make Albertans aware of a hazard, but critical alerts will also broadcast on radio and television in the event of imminent life-threatening danger.
The new systems is intended to spread the word out to residents on natural disasters, man-made hazards and Amber Alerts.
Residents in Slave Lake have raised concerns on how the disaster was handled by the province.
"Still to this day, it will kind of get to me. Especially whenever I talk about it I guess," said Ernestine Brown.
Brown is now looking for work in Edmonton after the devastating wildfires uprooted her entire family.
"It wasn't just my home, it was my family's home. My parent's home. And losing everything like that is hard."
The province admits severe weather and other disasters can affect the power supply, which would hamper the ability to get the public warning system out through television and radio stations.
In the case of Slave Lake, the disaster caused widespread power outages, making it difficult for residents to get information.
"There were certain mediums we could not use even to warn people," said Minister of Municipal Affairs Hector Goudreau.
The overhaul of the emergency system is a first in nearly 20 years.
"That's why we've expanded our alerting system to include a new website, a Facebook page and a Twitter feed, " said Goudreau.
And while Brown is relieved with the improvements being made, she's critical it took officials this long to catch up with technology.
"I think it would have been better if we had it then."
In the case of Slave Lake, the province knows there is room for improvements.
"We will be looking at it and looking at whether we could have done something differently."
With files from Laura Tupper