Province releases details on ‘Next Gen 911’ service in Alberta
The Alberta government released details on new provincial standards for 911 service in the province, along with potential plans to include texting or video chat with dispatchers.
Standards released Tuesday are meant to ensure the 21 call centres in Alberta share the same processes and approaches when answering and transferring emergency calls.
The standards include an agreed upon terminology used throughout the province, set performance targets, require call centres to have a quality assurance plan and internal audit processes and mandate backup procedures to ensure service is never interrupted.
The performance targets include answering calls within 15 seconds and transferring calls within one minute of answering, 95 per cent of the time.
“Albertans should receive quality 911 service and know the emergency response system is there for them when they need it, no matter where in the province they live,” Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson said in a statement.
The standards were developed following collaboration with members of the Alberta 911 Association and stakeholders, including police organizations, Alberta Health Services and phone service providers.
The Emergency 911 Act came into force in 2014, and allowed the Municipal Affairs Ministry to create the provincial standards.
Alberta’s regional call centres receive an average of 4.3 million 911 calls per year, and officials said a larger call centre could receive about 30,000 911 calls in a month.
Plus, officials said the standards set the stage for the province to expand 911 services to include allowing Albertans to contact 911 through texting and video calling.
Currently, texting service is available to Albertans who are speech or hearing impaired.
“Part of the ‘Next Gen 911’ system in Canada, is that citizens from coast-to-coast will be able to text with 911,” Cindy Sparrow, Assistant Deputy Chief with Red Deer Emergency Services said Tuesday.
“It is coming in the next few years, we are not there yet.”
The province’s 911 call centres will have to comply with the new standards by June 12, 2019.
With files from Dan Grummett