Report suggests that 911 set-up should be modernised for digital age

by Andrew Roach on October 11, 2013

911 is perhaps the most fundamental part of the communications set-up in Canada as the number can give anyone access to emergency services no matter where they are or what they are doing.

However, the service has virtually stayed the same since it was set up hundreds of years ago and a new report says that the platform needs to have a major overhaul so it is ready to cope with the demands of the modern age.

It pointed out that there are several flaws with today’s system which includes it not being adequately prepared for new technologies, still not having a dedicated regulatory body as well as problems involving funding.

The report was sent to the CRTC and had been compiled by former commissioners who had been responsible for looking over the service in the past.

Among the many issues that were discussed in the report, there were lots of worries about the growing technology gaps across the country and that the service will need to adapt to cope with varying levels of technology.

With the 911 service initially developed for landlines, it meant almost every home had a way of contacting the number should there be a need to do so.

However, many homes are no longer having landlines within their homes and are solely relying on mobile or Internet devices to make emergency calls which the system is not fully prepared to handle on a large scale.

Alongside that, it was found that the system was becoming more vulnerable to prank calls as users on new devices were not only able to fake caller ID’s but also stage entire hoaxes online.

The report, led by former commissioner Timothy Denton, also came up with several recommendations that the CRTC need to consider over the next few weeks.

These suggestions including using funding to better prepare emergency services to handle new technology and to ensure that there are dedicated staff members who solely handle 911 calls and nothing else.

With the report now published, the CRTC have given the public until November 25 to give their views on Denton’s recommendations and on the state of the 911 service before the board make final decisions in the New Year.

Considering how fast technology has evolved over the last few years, there is clearly a need for the 911 service to evolve to cope with all the new platforms and it will now be up to the CRTC to help the service be 100% ready for the challenges of a digital future.

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Written by: Andrew Roach Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube

{ 1 comment }

Matt Klassen October 11, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Strikes me as a strange story given that the CRTC implemented enhanced 911 service more than three years ago.

Perhaps a damning critique of our laboriously slow bureaucracy

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