Alert Ready, Part II: Two languages, one or two messages?

One of the complaints users receiving emergency broadcasts on their mobile I was the Alert Ready messaging experienced Monday transmitted two messages in Ontario for the same alert.  One in English and the other in French. This caused the end user to experience interruption twice when only once was warranted.

This made me wonder about the service and protocol it used. In theory a well designed protocol would allow for a single alert in multiple languages.  I did a little bit of investigation last night on the Alert Ready System.  As it turns out, it uses a standard “Canadian Protocol” called CAP-CP (Canadian Profile of the Common Alerting Protocol), which is based on an overall international standard protocol called called the Common Alerting Protocol or CAP.

A quick glance of the protocol shows that both CAP-CP and CAP support multiple languages in a single alert.  So why did we receive two alerts, one for each language?  It could be that Pelmorex, the company that runs the Alert Ready system sent an individual alert for each language, one in English and a separate one in French.  Of course if a single alert was sent with both English and French, the user mobile device then has to discern which one to display.  Ideally, it would select the default language of the device as the selection process.  If however, the specific device is not programmed to do this, it could just display all the messages to the end user in the alert, which would cause the end user to see both, or maybe it only sends the first language found, or some other behaviour.  The end user device plays an important role in the delivery of the alert, and given the number of devices, different version of O/S etc. it may be beyond the alerting services control to some extent.

Here is sample pseudo-code from the official site showing how the CAP-CP protocol supports multiple languages in a single alert:

Looking at the official CAP protocol which CAP-CAP was based off, here is an XML example of a Amber alert in multiple languages:

The first Alert Ready discussion can be found here, although it is not required.

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