911 service NL-wide by end of 2014
June 22, 2012
Province-Wide 911 Service to be Implemented Across Newfoundland and Labrador
Today the Provincial Government outlined its plan to proceed with implementation of a province-wide 911 service. By the end of 2014, basic 911 service will be expanded throughout the province and implementation of a more advanced 911 system (Next Generation 911) will have commenced.
“The Provincial Government is committed to expanding and improving the 911 system in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said the Honourable Kevin O’Brien, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Minister Responsible for Fire and Emergency Services. “It was important for us to get the research done to ensure the feasibility of a province-wide 911 system. Our government will now make the investments necessary to move forward. We understand and appreciate the benefits that a 911 system provides and will make this vital service available to residents of the province.”
The Provincial Government today released a feasibility study for 911 and/or Enhanced 911/Next Generation 911 service options by POMAX Consulting Incorporated. In advancing a Next Generation 911 system, the financial commitment of a province-wide service is anticipated to involve an initial capital investment of approximately $1.5 million with an annual cost of $2.3 million upon full system implementation. An additional investment may be allocated for the provision of technical expertise for the planning process related to the implementation.
Currently, approximately 40 per cent of the province is covered by a basic 911 service. The report outlines areas to be examined before a province-wide 911 system can be put in place, including such areas as infrastructure and civic addressing. In addition, municipalities and other stakeholders will have a role to play in implementing the system across the province.
As recommended in the report, a senior level project team will be immediately established to further define a plan to expand basic province-wide 911 service by the end of 2014 and to commence implementation of a Next Generation 911 system. The Provincial Government will report progress to the public in January 2013.
“The report outlines the work that needs to occur in preparation for a province-wide 911 system and our government will move immediately to begin that work,” said Minister O’Brien. “We recognize the importance of 911 to the residents of our province and we will move as quickly as possible to begin rolling out 911 services in areas currently not covered in the province, followed by a longer-term plan of improving the existing system with Next Generation 911 services.”
The Provincial Government engaged POMAX Consulting Incorporated to carry out a feasibility study of 911 and/or Enhanced 911/Next Generation 911 service options in Newfoundland and Labrador. POMAX Consulting has been operating and incorporated in Canada and the United States since 1996. The company has extensive experience and technical skill in emergency response systems, effective operational models, organization, governance, and cost impact for projects throughout North America.
A summary of the finding of the POMAX Feasibility Study can be found in the backgrounder below. A copy of the report can be found online at www.gov.nl.ca/fes
- Direct link: www.gov.nl.ca/fes/911study.pdf
Summary of Findings of the POMAX Feasibility Study
- It is estimated that 40 per cent of the population of Newfoundland and Labrador have basic 911 service.
- In Newfoundland and Labrador, basic 911 service is currently available in three areas of the province: North East Avalon, Corner Brook / Bay of Islands, and Labrador West (Labrador City and Wabush).
- Due to the distribution of the population in the province, unique challenges exist in remote and isolated areas, in particular, in the Labrador region of Newfoundland and Labrador.
- The North East Avalon 911 service is operated by St. John’s Regional Fire Department (SJRFD) while the remaining two systems are operated by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC).
- Basic 911 is also available throughout the province from mobile phones as long as a cellular signal can be accessed. This service is available even in areas where landline phones cannot access 911.
- Cellular 911 calls originating from geographic areas not normally answered by the SJRFD or RNC are received at the RCMP ‘B’ Division in St. John’s.
- The four 911 centres (SJRFD, RNC [2 PSAPs], and RCMP) are known as Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs).
Definitions of Basic, Enhanced, and Next Generation 911
- The purpose of a 911 system is to facilitate the contact of emergency services. It is an easy to remember number available to almost everyone in Canada and the United States.
- Basic 911, is a three digit telephone number which, in Newfoundland and Labrador, is translated to a seven or 10 digit number through a method known as Translation-encoded Instruction (which is transparent to the caller), and routed to the closest Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). Translation-encoded Instruction is similar to call-forwarding but is more robust.
- Enhanced 911 (E911) refers to the additional availability of Automatic Number Identification (ANI) and Automatic Location Identification (ALI). These features allow the PSAP call taker to see, on their computer screen, the telephone number and address from which a call is coming. ANI is similar to the commercially available calling line identification available on home telephones, except that the caller cannot block the display of his or her number.
- Next Generation (NG) 911 is a more advanced form of Enhanced 911. In addition to the features provided by Enhanced 911, Next Generation 911 (NG911) prepares emergency services to keep pace with changing methods of communication and data transfer. Next Generation 911 enables communication via text messaging (including the transmission of text for the hearing impaired community), and allows the transmission of images, video and other data to a public safety answering point or emergency service. NG911 infrastructure is intended to replace Enhanced 911 services over time.
Feasibility Study Findings
- Infrastructure, technical, and organizational resources already exist in Newfoundland and Labrador to support the expansion of a basic 911 system using the same Translation-encoded Instruction methodology already in use at the existing 911 centres.
- 911 delivery through the use of Translation-encoded Instruction means that there are no significantly unique challenges associated with the delivery of basic 911, Enhanced 911, or Next Generation service in Labrador or remote or isolated areas of the province.
- An Enhanced or Next Generation 911 system can be piloted in any area of the province that has effective civic addressing. Steps would have to be taken to validate the addressing system, and to confirm the accuracy of maps. Bell Aliant’s telephone switch network is able to accommodate an Enhanced or Next Generation 911 system throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, except for six communities in Labrador representing approximately 250 customers.
- Existing models that are most applicable to the needs of Newfoundland and Labrador can be found in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.