Librem 5 + wireless public alerts?

Hello Purism community,

I am wondering whether anyone within the Librem 5 development team has considered supporting wireless public alerting (Alert Ready as it’s called in Canada). If so I’d love to hear how you guys would be implementing it. If this is a new topic of consideration, I would love to encourage you to look into it. A number of flagship phones produced after 2015 support this feature. From what I know, however, it requires the addition of special software in the device of which I do not know its level of freedom. If anyone more knowledgeable in this area could shed some light on whether this would be possible in the Librem 5 that would be wonderful.

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Hello @JohnFraser,

I am not very familiar with wireless public alerts/Alert Ready. Do you have some docs about it?
If it is a software-only feature… well, good news! The Librem 5 runs FLOSS :slight_smile:

The team already has a lot on their plate getting a functional minimal environment working. I know some of them are/were working on porting a mobile compositor for wayland, Adrien works on porting some GNOME apps on mobile (especially the browser and the mail client).

As this is a software-only feature, anyone either from Purism or from its community can add such support on the phone, whether it is before or after launch.

Sounds like a regular scan for wifi networks around you and a simple message if one of them is not using any encryption. Then you login and get greeted by a voucher based captive portal and get stuck on it :wink:

So I’ve done a bit more research into the topic and found that Alert Ready, along with its American and European equivalents, uses a standard called Cell Broadcast Messaging to distribute the alerts.

To me, it seems to be a slightly modified sms message, though i’m not super knowledgeable on it. If so however, there’s not really much special software needed, rather a simple program that could differentiate between regular sms and a cell broadcast, then act accordingly.

I am not a programmer myself, but like @thib said, it would be great to see someone from the community work on making this a feature of Librem 5.

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Hi, John. I’m on the Purism Board of Directors. I’ll bring this up at our next meeting. Thanks for the very thoughtful suggestion.

Cell Broadcast Messaging has been around for many years. Back in the 2000s, I remember that you had to input channel numbers to specify which messages you wanted to pick up.

It sounds like the recent (2015) innovation is to add an easy GUI for subscribing to specific public alert channels.

Here in the UK, AFAIK, it has never yet been used for anything particularly important. Some providers broadcast geographic information relating to each cell site, but there is no public alert system. (Though there was talk of creating one.)