CRTC to study future of 911 service

Millions of Canadians take for granted that dialing 911 will let then access emergency services. But that’s not true in all parts of the country, and it may vary if the caller has a cell phone or a VoIP phone.
That’s why Canadians dump their landline phones for mobile devices, the Canadian Radio- television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is gearing up to study the future of the country’s 911 service.

“Each year the 911 system is relied upon by thousands of Canadians during emergency situations, said Tim Denton, CRTC national commissioner who has been appointed inquiry officer by the commission for the formal review. “As telecommunications networks evolve and adopt new technologies, we have an interest in ensuring that the systems continue to meet Canadians’ needs.”

The formal review, set for 2014-2015, is being undertaken in light of the telecommunication’s ongoing evolution into next-generation networks based on Internet Protocol, according to a CRTC statment. The commission wants to know how public and private emergency services intend to use current and emerging technologies.

“I would encourage first responders, call centre operators and government bodies to share their ideas on how the 911 system could help them better respond to emergency situations,” said Denton.

Denton’s recommendations will be taken into consideration when the CRTC begins its formal review of the regulatory framework for Canada’s 911 system, said the CRTC.

To assist Denton in preparing his report, the CRTC today launched a public consultation. Canadians are invited to share their views by February 1, 2013, on the following topics:

•The performance and adequacy of the technology currently employed by 911 services, such as that used to locate a caller using a cellphone;

•The issues related to the provision of 911 services on next-generation networks, including how systems should be designed and the appropriate institutional arrangements;

•Policy considerations on 911 matters.

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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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