CATA study to examine Canadian first responder tech needs

A national study recently launched by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) and the Canadian Police Research Centre (CPRC) is aiming to identify the technology, emergency preparedness and research needs of Canada’s first responders.

The results of the online survey will be released in January 2007, and is the second study in a series of three to help better determine the types of research and related services that can be provided to Canadian first responder stakeholders, said Kevin Wennekes of CATA.

“It goes back to when we conducted our first study with CPRC which went out to the vendor community,” said Wennekes, CATA’s vice president of research. “In consultation with the stakeholders involved in the study we decided to go deeper and look into what are those technology challenges and how can we address them in terms of their emergency preparedness and basic operation functionality.”

The third study will be looking at the research network capabilities organizational strengths within Canada, said Steve Palmer, executive director of CPRC.

“With this second study we really want to get a snap shot of some of the major requirements for the first responder community in Canada in personal perceptions, in interoperability, in equipment,” said Palmer

The CPRC is the link between the first responder’s community (fire, police, paramedic and emergency aid) and CATA, according to Palmer.

Wennekes added that the study also has questions around pandemic preparedness and disaster relief with respect to what (first responders) own personal perceptions are around the likelihood of needing to address these issues, and how well prepared they are for addressing them.

They have a couple of questions in this current study that will ask the first responders who they’re currently working with on a daily, weekly, monthly or intermittent basis with respect to emergency preparedness and security, said Wennekes.

“We will be using those answers to start the creation of a web of influence in mapping out who the players are in Canada’s first response and public security sector.”

Palmer said the study will be going out to approximately 600 organizations.

“The information collected will be used to design programs to work with partners so that we can address those issues,” he said. “And certainly through the associations and through CATA we will be providing that information to the government.”

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