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GIS is essential for Next Generation 9-1-1

Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) introduces a GIS requirement that will more accurately locate the 9-1-1 caller and ensure they reach the appropriate responders in an emergency event. In fact, the first transition phase of NG9-1-1 in Canada is just upon us, with the voice network ready milestone just weeks away on March 30, 2021. However, 9-1-1 stakeholders only have a limited time to get their GIS data and processes ready for the 2024 launch – now is the time to act!

Why do we need Next Generation 9-1-1?

Next Generation 9-1-1 will introduce an overhaul of the outdated technology currently in use. It will replace the outdated analog-based system with modern capabilities to support accurate location detection and modern modes of communication including text and multimedia. These changes will be enabled by GIS data and an IP-based infrastructure. Once the switch to NG9-1-1 is complete, the link from a caller to the 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Centre (ECC) or Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), will be completely digital and capable of transmitting requests for help from existing mobile devices and new sources as they become available. Next Generation will change the 9-1-1 experience as we know it today.

What role will GIS play in Next Generation 9-1-1?

It is useful to think of 9-1-1 call processing and emergency response as four distinct functions:

  • Routing of 9-1-1 emergency calls to the correct PSAP/ECC
  • Call handling and confirming event location and details at the PSAP/ECC
  • Dispatch of appropriate response resources and management of responder safety
  • First responder technologies including mobile devices that interface to the PSAP/ECC

Data and information relationships such as those between municipal/provincial/federal GIS data providers, data management entities, service providers, public safety agencies and third-party application providers must be considered, and, in some cases, new models of service developed. Other relationships affecting technical, operational, governance and funding aspects of emergency response and service delivery will also change.

Additionally, the evolution of caller location technologies under NG9-1-1 will strengthen relationships with and between public safety agencies nationally. Agency implementation decisions will impact GIS information management entities, public safety datasets, municipalities and regional cooperative agreements and these relationships, in turn, will affect technical processes such as 9-1-1 call routing, PSAP/ECC 9-1-1 call handling, caller location, dispatch and coordination between responding agencies.

Governance of GIS information will most certainly change as data is increasingly shared among responding agencies and other local/regional/provincial partners. Management of GIS information will require increased forethought and planning to address sharing, update frequency, storage and security concerns.

Want to learn more about the role of GIS in Next Generation 9-1-1? Join us for our free French webinar on February, 2021: Le 9-1-1 de prochaine generation met les SIG sur la carte for a closer look at the NG9-1-1 initiative and what organizations can do in preparation for the GIS requirements.

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

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.

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