The government plans to introduce new supports for 9-1-1 call centres so when Albertans dial 9-1-1, they continue to get the help needed in emergencies.
Today in Lethbridge, the provincial government announced a list of changes to the system.
“Alberta’s 9-1-1 service is absolutely essential and our government is acting to ensure the system not only continues to be available in the coming years, but gets even better by adapting to the new realities of cellphones, texting and other innovations,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths.
According to a government press release, the changes will address a number of challenges facing Alberta’s 9-1-1 call centres by creating the ability for the government to introduce, in collaboration with 9-1-1 service providers, province-wide standards for 9-1-1 processes and procedures, give 9-1-1 call centres more legal protection, support 9-1-1 call centres’ efforts to integrate “next generation” 9-1-1 technology like GPS and texting, introduce penalties for prank 9-1-1 calls and ensure equity among phone users in contributing to the cost of 9-1-1 service.
There are an estimated 2.7 million cellphone subscriptions in Alberta, and many 9-1-1 operators across Alberta have said cellphones can account for up to 70 per cent of all calls they receive. Unlike landline users, cellphone users do not directly contribute to the cost of 9-1-1 services, according to the press release.
“This is great news for Public Safety Answering Points in the Province,” said Chris Kearns, manager, Public Safety Communications Centre, City of Lethbridge, and chair of the Alberta E9-1-1 Advisory Association. “9-1-1 centres have experienced dramatic increases in calls from cellphones, and new technologies also create issues. This makes it difficult to keep up and remain current. We welcome the Provincial support.”
“There is no doubt that wireless technology plays a crucial role in keeping Canadians safe,” added Bernard Lord, president and CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA). “The industry’s continuing partnerships with the Government of Alberta and the public safety community will help ensure the 9-1-1 system remains a vital lifeline for Albertans.”
Visit www.aema.alberta.ca for more information.
Look for more details on the announcement in tomorrow’s print edition of The Lethbridge Herald.