Updated: Hearing Society Pleased With Enhanced 911 Service

Business Tuesday, February, 18, 2014

Halton Regional Police Service and other partners are working on enhancing 911 emergency service for the deaf and hard of hearing in the region.

Working with Police on the project are Halton Hills, Milton, Oakville and Burlington Fire Departments and Halton Regional Paramedic Services, Progress is being made toward enhancing 911 service in the region to include a text with 911? feature for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

We are pleased to learn about the progress being made in Halton because the Canadian Hearing Society has been advocating for Text 911 services across Canada for years, said Chris Kenopic of Georgetown, CEO and President of the Canadian Hearing Society. This has been a long time in coming and while this services is not yet in place the lives of people who are Deaf or hard of hearing are at risk because they cant call 911 directly with the current technology.

Halton Police is the 911 public service answering point for emergency service. Once properly registered with their wireless service provider, members of that community will be able to connect with 911 through text messaging.

In todays 911 environment, the public can primarily make only emergency voice calls and Teletype calls (by deaf or hearing impaired persons) to the 911 centre. Only minimal caller data is delivered with these calls, such as the phone number of the device calling, and any address associated to that phone number. In some cases, the GPS coordinates of a wireless 911 telephone call can also be determined by the 911 call centre.

Lets say Im on the road or Im out and not in my house, explained Kenopic. Im hoping theres a hearing person whos near me to be able to make that call on my behalf. I dont have it accessible to me to directly call them. With these new changes to Text 911, anyone who is deaf, hard of hearing or has speech challenges will be able to access the services themselves and call 911 directly in case of an emergency.

Improving access to the deaf and hard of hearing is part of a much larger national effort to enhance 911 access to all citizens using a new technology that enables the public to transmit text, images, video and data to the 911 center. The decision to start with the hearing-or speech-impaired Canadians was made by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and supported by a CRTC report that identified significant access limitations to 911 services for this community.

Next Generation 911 (NG911) NG911 is a technology that will enhance our 911 service capability by allowing people to send a variety of digital information to emergency services in a real-time environment.

Once implemented, NG911 will provide the foundation for public emergency communications services to operate in a wireless mobile society. Once fully implemented, the enhancements may include:

An expanded ability for the public to make voice, text, or video emergency calls from any communication device.
The ability to receive data from personal safety devices, advanced automatic collision notification systems, medical alert systems, intrusions alarms, surveillance systems and other sensors of various types.
The ability for individuals to send video clips of a crime in progress, motor vehicle collision, fire, or other public safety hazard to emergency services.
The ability for 911 centres to issue emergency alerts to wireless devices in an area via voice or text message, and to highway alert systems.

The implementation of NG911 requires a carefully coordinated effort with emergency service agencies across the country, phone service providers in each province and various levels of government. The new infrastructure will need to support national inter networking of 911 services, as well as transfer of emergency calls to other 911 centres -including any accompanying data. The transition plan and end state of NG911 has yet to be completely specified.

The Halton Regional Police Service is committed to working with all stakeholders and partners to make NG911 a reality.

More information on this service can be found on the Canadian Wireless Telecommunication Association website at: http://textwith911.ca/. More information on the CRTC decision can be found at: http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2013/2013-22.htm
Reproduced from http://www.theifp.ca/news/updated-hearing-society-pleased-with-enhanced-911-service/