9-1-1 Tech Advisors NG9-1-1 FAQs - Update
Introduction: Below are some frequently asked questions from
First Responders and the general public that we have been asked
as 9-1-1 Technology Consultants and Advisors.
We help police, fire, emergency service and distress centres develop their NG9-1-1 technology strategies and guide them in acquiring and deploying NG9-1-1 technology solutions. Working in conjunction with the sector and their various vendors, these NG9-1-1 solutions enable public safety and emergency services organizations to communicate via voice and text by 2022 and provide additional location information regardless of device type. Chat and video capabilities are planned for future NG9-1-1 rollouts.
1. What is NG9-1-1?
NG9-1-1, as its name suggests, is the Next Generation of 9-1-1 services. Once fully implemented, the service will be IP (Internet Protocol) from end to end. This will allow for more detailed location identification (such as elevation in a high rise). It will also provide the platform that could allow images and video to be sent as part of a 9-1-1 call. Although some of these capabilities may not be implemented immediately, one very important feature… Real Time Text (RTT), will be included as a deliverable by the network providers very early in the deployment.
This will be significant for hearing or speech impaired people, with smart phones, to be able to communicate with the 9-1-1 Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).
The existing 9-1-1 infrastructure is simply not capable of handling this type of migration.
As a historical perspective, the legacy 9-1-1 service that we use today is built on a telecommunications platform that was designed in the 1970s. Not surprisingly, this platform is technically limited and is now obsolete.
Rhetorical Question: How many electronic devices do you use today that were designed 40 years ago and can still be repaired or serviced?
To be fair, the 9-1-1 network has undergone a number of upgrades over the years to accommodate cellular service and location identification, but the underlying platform is now at end-of-life.
2. How is it different from the 9-1-1 service we have today?
The 9-1-1 service has three basic components …
USER: This is the individual dialing 9-1-1. Approximately 80 percent of 9-1-1 calls are now placed from mobile devices. When the existing network was created, there were no cell phones and all telephone services had fixed addresses.
CARRIER NETWORK: This is the network that delivers 9-1-1 calls to the PSAPs. The new network will be known as the ESINet (Emergency Services IP Network). Bell Canada, Telus and SaskTel deliver 9-1-1 service as the incumbent service providers.
PUBLIC SAFETY ANSWERING POINT: These are the 9-1-1 responders and dispatchers. There are approximately 300 PSAP locations in Canada. They include the 9-1-1 answering positions (Primary PSAP) and dispatch for Police, Fire and Ambulance (Secondary PSAP).
These 3 components will remain in the NG9-1-1 environment but the technology that delivers the calls and the equipment that the responders use to answer the calls will be significantly different. NG9-1-1 will deliver improved location accuracy and the dispatchers will have the ability to quickly access additional information to help the First Responders.
By 2024 the current telephone network that delivers the calls to the PSAP will no longer exist. When a PSAP converts to NG9-1-1 there will no longer be “telephone” sets on a responder’s desk. The calls will appear on a computer screen and the voice communications will occur on headsets attached to the computers.
3. Who is responsible for NG9-1-1 services in Canada? (CRTC/Provinces etc.)
It depends …. The carrier network (ESINet) is regulated by the CRTC on a national level. However, the CRTC has no jurisdiction over the PSAPs.
In most of the provinces, provincial legislation provides oversight for the PSAPs. Ontario does not have any provincial legislation or oversight for the PSAPs, and it is left to the municipalities to fund and manage their respective PSAPs. The organizations that fund and manage the PSAP are generally described as Governing Authorities.
4. COVID-19 seems to be affecting every aspect of society. Has COVID-19 had an impact on the implementation schedule of NG9-1-1 in Canada?
The process of planning and creating the ESINet has been underway since 2017. The network-ready date for voice service is March 2021, and the date for Real Time Text is March 2022 (to be confirmed pending CRTC approval). These projects are well developed and have only been slightly delayed by COVID-19.
The migration of the PSAPs may be affected based on the status of the planning process for each of the centres. Some are well along the procurement and planning process while others are in the formative stages. Each one will evaluate their individual process and amend timelines as circumstances dictate.
It is unlikely that the end date of the existing network will be extended beyond the updated March 2024 legacy 9-1-1 decommissioning deadline.
5. Can a PSAP (Public Service Answering Point) just connect to the new NG9-1-1 service (ESInet) and start taking calls?
The simple answer is NO … When a PSAP migrates to NG9-1-1 the telephone lines disappear and the technical protocols for call handling and information flow will all change. The analogy is music on a vinyl record compared to a streaming service.
6. What will change for them?
The equipment in use in a PSAP will be replaced or significantly updated to comply with the new system. Telephones will disappear as the method of answering calls and all PSAPs will be (eventually) connected in comprehensive IP networks.
A call will be able to be answered in Halifax and be transferred seamlessly with all call records and recordings intact to any other PSAP, i.e. in British Columbia.
7. How long does it normally take to implement NG9-1-1 in a PSAP?
Based on our experience in working with multiple early adopter PSAPs, it can be expected to take about 18 months to start with an initial assessment and follow the process through design, procurement, and deployment (including training).
8. What are the biggest challenges a PSAP will face when implementing and working with NG9-1-1 in the future?
The skill sets for the responders may change with the deployment of NG9-1-1. Change and evolution will become a recurring process as the needs of the communities evolve.
Cyber-security will be a huge issue moving forward in an IP environment.
There will be a shift in budgeting since there will be higher ongoing costs associated with services in an IP environment.
9. What are the key components of an NG9-1-1 budget that organizations should consider?
The CRTC regulates the Network Providers (ESINet) and dictates that a 9-1-1 fee is to be collected by service providers to be able to deliver the NG9-1-1 service to the PSAP.
Each PSAP Governing Authority is responsible for funding their PSAPs through their migrations to NG 9-1-1. This is different for each Province and in Ontario it differs by municipality. When migrating to an NG9-1-1 capable infrastructure, not only are the migration costs significant, but the ongoing operating costs are also significantly higher than current 9-1-1 operations. Many organizations will not be able to get adequate funding and will have to either consolidate with other nearby organizations or discontinue providing 9-1-1 services in their area.
Is the CRTC going to fund this work? NO… see above
10. Given what you know about timelines, budget and implementation planning what advice do you have for PSAPs?
If you have not already started, you are behind in the process. It is critically important to start with an assessment and report the findings to the governing authority. It is a costly exercise and the budgeting process is critical.
11. What will be the key benefits to Canadians?
The migration to NG9-1-1 is not an option. The existing technology platform is obsolete and will not support future communication processes.
Enhanced location identification, omni-channel communications …. Voice, Text, Chat, Image, Video are all possible means of communications. It will save lives and make First Responders more effective.
12. Where can organizations find out more on NG9-1-1?
For information on how to evolve to NG9-1-1:
CRTC NG9-1-1- Web Site = www.crtc.ca
NENA - National Emergency Number Association = Professional Organization that provides standards, certification and education for 9-1-1 professionals, vendors and sector www.nena.org
Association of Public Safety Communications Officials Canada = www.apco.ca
9-1-1 Tech Advisors = www.911techadvisors.com
Our Experienced 9-1-1 Technology Professionals
Each of our experienced 9-1-1, telecom, network, contact center and unified communication technology professionals have designed, installed and managed complex communications technology solutions for at least twenty years.
We bring a combined total of two hundred and fifty-three years (253) of collective experience to ensure we help you design and select the right next generation 9-1-1 technology solution from the right vendors. (yes, really 253 years!)
Fore more information, contact 9-1-1 Tech Advisors:
Roberta J. Fox-Lawson, Chief Innovation Officer
9-1-1 Tech Advisors, div. of FOX GROUP Technology
E: Roberta.Fox@FOXGROUP.ca | T: 289.648.1981