911 goes digital to allow texts, photos and videos
Gray County is renewing its contract with the Owen Sound Police Department, which is its public safety 911 call point, dispatching emergency responders.
The new contract includes a small share of the OSPS service equipment costs for upcoming changes to emergency call services.
Originally, the 911 was introduced in the late 90s using analog wire technology. The digital switchover is expected to create a faster system, better equipped to handle high volumes due to natural disasters, as well as to include location tracking.
While calls from landlines entering dispatch point to a specific location, currently cell phones are routed to towers which may be some distance away or in another jurisdiction.
When the next generation 911 arrives, in addition to phone calls entering a communication center, there may be an electronic request from a mobile phone. Over time, real-time text, data, images can all be received.
In 2020, Gray County’s annual payment for 911 services was $ 52,345 based on 56 cents per person per year based on 2016 census data. The new census information, which will be released late 2022, are expected to exceed 100,000, up from around 94,000 in 2016.
The cost per person in the new contract starts at 67 cents per person in 2021, increasing by two cents each year to reach 75 cents in 2025.
Owen Sound has dispatched the county’s 911 since the program began and has provided excellent service, according to the staff report.
The implementation of what is called Next Generation 911 or NG911 must be done in a coordinated manner.
In Canada, the 911 system is the responsibility of the CRTC, which regulates telecommunications. It has set a deadline of March 1, 2022 for providers to update all phone and cellular services to digital to allow text messaging.
Other services, such as photos and videos will follow. Some of the targets to get certain aspects of the services in place have been extended due to COVID-19, according to the staff report.
Organizations associated with emergency service communication have been working on the IP service path since around 2000.