Next Generation 9-1-1: Key considerations for Ontario

September 3, 2020 David Hamilton

In a recent article, my colleague, Barry Costello, and NENA Canada’s Regional Director, Holly Barkwell, detailed Next Generation 9-1-1’s (NG9-1-1) upcoming milestones, as directed by the CRTC, that will be essential to the initiative’s roll-out and long-term success. 

We are now less than a year away from the first milestone where networks must make NG9-1-1 voice services ready by March 2021, and the work towards this deadline is well underway. NG9-1-1 will revolutionize emergency response service and impact the lives of all Canadians. For our country’s most populous province, here are 3 considerations to keep in mind while planning for this change in Ontario.

  1. Regions and municipalities are responsible

In Ontario there is no provincial oversight body in place when it comes to the Next Generation 9-1-1 initiative. This means the individual regions and municipalities will be responsible for the coordination and execution of activities required to meet CRTC milestones and be NG9-1-1 compliant. The lack of orchestration at the provincial level leaves room for inconsistent readiness come 2023 when our existing 911 system will be fully retired and could lead to negative impacts to NG9-1-1 service province wide if communities are not ready.

  1. Diverse regions and municipalities face unique challenges

Ontario is made up of over 400 municipalities ranging from small communities to some of the country’s largest cities. No doubt, we will see differences in preparedness across regions, and cities and towns will need to assess their own unique challenges. As each jurisdiction will be responsible for their NG9-1-1 planning, the availability of expertise and resources may differ across even neighbouring areas. A lack of resources and expertise could pose logistical challenges for municipalities, as a uniform standard of data is needed to ensure NG9-1-1 effectiveness. For example, if conflation of GIS data from neighbouring jurisdictions results in inconsistencies in location validation, emergency response could be negatively impacted. For these reasons, having expert guidance will be crucial to navigating NG9-1-1.

  1. A collaborative approach is critical

Ontario is home to approximately 14 million residents and represents approximately 38% of Canada’s total population. With so many people concentrated in one province, it’s clear to see why NG9-1-1 preparedness is so important in Ontario. 9-1-1 call rates are typically higher in more densely populated areas, thus the need for effective 9-1-1 service is imperative. Collaboration across all jurisdictions and many government departments will ensure Ontario’s residents have access to NG9-1-1 enabled service and response.

Will your community be ready to meet the upcoming NG9-1-1 milestones? Join me on September 22nd for the webinar, Next Generation 9-1-1 Puts GIS on the Map, where our panel of Public Safety experts from NENA Canada and ESWG will provide an overview of the NG9-1-1 initiative and how municipalities and organizations can prepare for upcoming milestones. Reserve your seat today!

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here.

About the Author

David Hamilton

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.

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