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Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911)
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 "The promise of Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) is not just about updating current 9-1-1 call centres.  It's about disrupting the current paradigm, and rethinking the way emergency communication centres connect citizens with responders, with the best available information and tools." - Canadian NG9-1-1 Coalition

APCO Canada represents front line staff as a member of the Canadian NG9-1-1 Coalition.  This group, represented by each emergency service,  is working hard to usher in a safe, stable transition for NG9-1-1.

The Roadmap may be found here:

 

What is NG9-1-1?

Is it hype? A bunch of vendor driven hyperbole? Vapourware? A myth? What exactly is NG9-1-1 and why is there so much ado about it?

For those on the inside who have been working with NG9-1-1, this goes back 18 odd years (yes you heard that right) when the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) first acknowledged the necessity for NG9-1-1 and published the requirements in NENA’s Future Path Plan in 2001. Work on the program began in earnest in 2003 and continues today under the guidelines of the NENA i3 Solution for NG9-1-1.

In Canada, work has been moving forward since 2013 and recently (2017) the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) released a Telecom Regulatory Policy; “CRTC 2017-182 Next-generation 9-1-1 – Modernizing 9-1-1 networks to meet the public safety needs of Canadians”. In a nutshell, this policy directs the evolution of the 9-1-1 system to best serve Canadians in the future.

But you still haven’t told me what it is yet!!! Get to the point already…sheesh.

Okay, okay… you’re right, and there is so much to go over to fully understand it, but you and I would be here for the next 10 days talking about the background, so here we go and I hope I can do this some justice.

The original 9-1-1 system was designed for analogue wireline phones, connected directly to central offices and then to the local Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). This was based on the latest and greatest technology available… in the 1950’s. A life before the advent of the internet, mobile phones, and the “i-Generation”. As technology advanced, so did the need for to allow us to get our information on the move. We now carry more digital processing power on our belts and in our purses or back-pockets than the computers that landed the Apollo 11 Lunar Module in 1969. It’s a cool fact, look it up…only an 8bit processor with 2k of RAM!!! Wow…okay I digress…yet again.

In the “Information Age” all of our communications devices are being designed and optimized to be as efficient as possible when connected by wireless technology at your home or business. We are seeing more and more Enterprise companies and government entities moving toward the use of mobile devices exclusively as the ‘typical’ desk job has also evolved over the years.

As these devices are designed for use in the Internet Protocol (IP) world, our 9-1-1 networks and emergency response telecommunications systems need to adapt and be capable of accepting information from these devices. NENA has adopted the “Any device, Anywhere, Anytime” digital philosophy when referring to how NG9-1-1 should be accessible, and we agree. In the future, a request for emergency response might not come into the Emergency Communications Centre (ECC) as a 9-1-1 phone call but rather via electronic request from a mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) connected device. In time, Canadians will realize voice, Real-Time-Text(RTT), data and pictures/video will be able to be received by an NG9-1-1 capable ECC.

Okay, so now you know a little bit about why we are heading towards NG9-1-1 and what it will be capable of receiving. I imagine you may have some more questions, like “when is this happening, how will this affect my centre and me, who pays for all this, how do we get there” and many, many more from the technology side. While this article is not meant to address everything in its entirety, I will try to give you a little more information and point you to where you can get more details and possibly get directly involved yourself.

First off, when? In the CRTC decision mentioned earlier, some hard dates where provided to the NG9-1-1 network providers namely; Bell, SaskTel and Telus. These dates are;

  • June 2020, Mandate to be ready to deliver NG9-1-1 voice services.
  • Dec 2020, Mandate to be ready to deliver ALL NG9-1-1 services (data, Text and Picture/video)
  •  June 2023, Existing 9-1-1 and E9-1-1 systems will be decommissioned

 As you see there is not much time in order to get things ready to go, but a lot of that work is already being done by the CRTC’s Emergency Services Working Group (ESWG). The group is comprised of industry experts, equipment vendors, network providers, PSAPs, ECCs, vehicle telematics companies, National and International associations, Emergency Response Agencies and interested parties. 

ESWG has many sub-groups that work on the technical and process requirements for the many elements that are apart of NG9-1-1. These groups compile the information required to complete each Task Identification Form (TIF) on a consensus basis and provide formal reports to the ESWG Chairperson for submission to the Commission. Once the commission reviews the information provided, they may adopt the information as a requirement and then publish a decision which directs carriers and guides vendors towards standards.

APCO Canada Directors and members at large are well involved in the process and continue to work to better the future NG9-1-1 system for the public and Emergency Telecommunicators alike. We are active with the CRTC ESWG and the Canadian NG9-1-1 Coalition and will provide updates and information on the website and through our new member portal as important items become available.

 

How will NG9-1-1 affect you?

No one really knows the full answer to this question yet.  


How can you get involved with NG9-1-1?

While the project is not at the stage yet where front line staff can get involved at the National level (this is coming), talk to your Supervisors, Managers, and Directors in your own centre.  Ask them how you can get involved at the PSAP level.  

If you want to be more involved in getting the latest information and staying up to date, get on board with CRTC-ESWG, or the Canadian NG91-1-1 Coalition. Links are provided here for more information;

CRTC- ESWG: https://crtc.gc.ca/cisc/eng/cisf3e4.htm

Canadian NG9-1-1 Coalition: http://www.citig.ca/action-ng9-1-1.aspx

If you have any questions or would like to know more about how APCO Canada is working on this very important issue, please feel free to contact Ron.Williscroft@apco.ca