What is NextGen 911 and where is it at now?

Renée Francoeur
January 29, 2018
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The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has mandated that all 911 service providers update their 911 networks, including equipment, systems, databases, etc., to align with the NENA i3 architecture specification for Next Generation 911 services — based on IP technology — by June 30, 2020, and NextGen 911 Text Messaging (based on real-time text) by Dec. 31, 2020.

Telephone service providers and Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) will also need to make updates to their equipment and networks.

NextGen 911 means access to “new, enhanced and innovative 911 services, which has the potential to improve emergency response and save lives,” said Patricia Valladao, CRTC manager of media relations, in an email to Blue Line.

These enhancements include “the potential for Canadians to send photos of accident damage or a fleeing suspect, or send personal medical information, including accessibility needs, which could greatly aid emergency responders.” Timelines for these other services have not yet been established, Valladao said, noting there will be a communication plan to inform Canadians as new services become available.

In the current 911 networks, voice traffic relies on analogue technology and is transmitted over voice trunks, while ancillary data (i.e. caller’s name, telephone number and estimated location) is IP-based and transmitted over IP data links.

After 2023, all traffic transmitted over the NextGen 911 networks will be IP-based, according to Valladao, which will result in “greater efficiencies and enable the delivery of different information mediums.”

As of the end of November 2017, Valladao said the CRTC has mandated that both Telus and Bell conduct NG911 trials as a first step. Additionally, the ESWG (Emergency Services Working Group) was in the process of discussing the technical design of the NextGen 911 networks and developing a trial plan that was to be presented to the commission by the end of 2017. According to Valladao, the trials will take place over several stages, starting in 2018.

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