Province Seeks Input on Emergency Communication

The Ministry of Justice is seeking input from key stakeholders, including local governments, in order to inform the future of emergency communications across the province involving 911 and police communication centres. 

By modernizing the current approach to a more streamlined, equitable and resilient emergency communications system, services and public safety will be enhanced province-wide.  Local governments have worked to manage and improve service since the 911 system was implemented in the late 1980s, when the technology was predominantly landline telephone services.  Times have changed – households are moving from landline to cell phones, the majority of calls to 911 are from cell phones, and the implementation of Next Generation 911 (text and images) is expected to be complex and costly.  Given these challenges, the Province is looking to revisit the overall approach to 911 service delivery in British Columbia.

The delivery and funding of 911 emergency services has been an ongoing issue for local government.  UBCM in 2013 established a working group and hired a consultant to prepare a report “911 Services in British Columbia: Background Review in Relation to a Province-Wide Call Answer Levy”.  The report was considered at the 2013 Convention and endorsed.  Following the 2013 Convention UBCM tested support for a province-wide levy on wireless devices and determined at the time that the membership was divided on the issue and there was no opportunity to move forward.   

As a way to re-engage with stakeholders, a Discussion Paper – Emergency Communications Service Delivery in British Columbia - has been prepared by the Ministry of Justice that outlines the background, challenges, and strategic vision for emergency communications service delivery involving 911 PSAPs.  Specifically, the vision includes a consolidated 911 PSAP and police dispatch service delivery model, with enhanced support from a call answer levy on wireless devices. 

Written feedback on the questions in the Discussion Paper is requested via email by May 15, 2015. The Ministry will consider the results of the stakeholder engagement as part of the analysis of the strategic vision.  If you have any questions, please contact Sandra Sajko, Executive Director, Strategic Initiatives Policing and Security Branch.

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