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Dispelling NG9-1-1 Myths

You think NG9-1-1 won’t affect your work? Think again! Clear communication and collaboration will be essential to your organization’s NG9-1-1 success.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog posts over the past 24 months or so, you know how important the Next Generation 9-1-1 initiative is to improving Canada’s emergency services capabilities. As a GIS company, a lot of Esri Canada’s focus has been on the geospatial requirements as prescribed by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and the guidelines set by the CRTC, but NG9-1-1 will have impacts beyond the GIS professionals at the municipal, regional an provincial/territorial agencies. I’ve spoken to many people about preparing their organization for NG9-1-1 and I’ve noticed there are often some beliefs about this initiative that are not completely accurate – and in some cases, are frankly wrong. Here are a couple of the common NG9-1-1 myths I’ve come across:

1. I don’t work in public safety and emergency services , NG9-1-1 won’t affect my job

Not necessarily. NG9-1-1’s success will depend on input and support from a variety of municipal departments, including those not traditionally involved in public safety. Imagine you’re planning a potluck feast (post pandemic, of course) and you’re expecting folks to bring the appetizers, main dishes, and desserts to the party. But you’ve neglected a key part of the plan - you didn’t send out invitations to guests, nor have you coordinated who’s responsible for bringing what dish. In a similar vein, your municipal ecosystem will need a certain level of awareness, communication, and collaboration for your Next Generation 9-1-1 plans to thrive. Some of the necessary stakeholders are obvious - you’ll want to have the Police, Fire and EMS departments aware and onboard with the plans. Perhaps some not so obvious groups include:

  • Public Works: This department manages the city’s infrastructure projects that support things like (but not limited to) transportation, education, and public safety. They most likely will have a plethora of data and records such as building and facility blueprints, road network data, location of bridges, dams, shipping docks and more, which could be useful when compiling the NENA mandatory and recommended data layers for NG9-1-1.
  • Planning: The city’s planning department explores ways to best use land and resources. This could include activities like community research, writing policies, or planning construction and development. Understanding the objectives of NG9-1-1 may inform work planned and done by this team.
  • Finance: This department manages the budget for large capital projects and infrastructure investments and may need to allocate resources for work related to Next Generation 9-1-1.

2. The CRTC will manage Canada’s NG9-1-1 upgrades

This is a common misconception amongst many municipalities – let me help clarify. The CRTC is the federal agency overseeing the NG9-1-1 initiative in Canada and they are responsible for creating the policies and direction around the NG9-1-1 upgrade. That said, the CRTC will not craft nor implement the day-to-day NG9-1-1 functional plans. That responsibility falls to the telephone companies and municipal/regional and in some cases provincial authorities, who will take the CRTC guidelines and design the NG9-1-1 operations for their jurisdiction. The other part to mention is that the CRTC will not cover the costs associated with standing up NG9-1-1. This will also be the responsibility of the parties identified above (as alluded to in the previous point about having your Finance department onboard with plans). The bottom line is the CRTC will dictate the guidelines, but it falls on the industry and local jurisdictions to implement their own NG9-1-1 operations.

3. NG9-1-1 doesn’t go into effect until 2024, we have plenty of time to get ready

On the surface 3 years seems like a lot of time. However, when it comes to NG9-1-1 it’s not as big of a lead as it appears. NG9-1-1 must be fully functional by the March 30, 2024 decommissioning date, and for many stakeholders there is still a lot of work to be done. Organizations should use this time wisely to develop budgets and secure approvals for equipment and software and provide ample time for training and the implementation of a new NG9-1-1 system. Organizational change, data conversion and improvement projects are often lengthy. Good planning and effective time management ensures the approach to March 30, 2024 is steady and pain free as timelines will become shorter and resources are exhausted.

Next Generation 9-1-1 key milestones timeline

Want to learn more about how Next Generation 9-1-1 could impact a variety of departments and what organizations can do to prepare? Join me on Thursday, April 22 at 1 pm ET for a free webinar, Roadmapping the NG9-1-1 Transition for the Government Enterprise, as we look at why it’s important for the entire government ecosystem to get involved in NG9-1-1.

NG9-1-1 webinar promotional image

About the Author

David Hamilton is the Public Safety Industry Manager for Esri Canada. His efforts are focused on advising customers how to use GIS technology to improve all areas of public safety, specifically (NG)9-1-1, law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, emergency management, and search and rescue. Prior to joining Esri Canada in 2010, David managed the GIS for E-Comm 9-1-1 in Vancouver, and worked for the RCMP at the Integrated Security Unit for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games where he managed their Common Operating Picture. Being active has been a major part of David’s personal life; soccer, track & field, skiing, cycling, hiking and now kayaking are all among his favourite activities.

Profile Photo of David Hamilton