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e-COMMUNIQUÉ E-Comm Newsletter Fall 2013, No. 41

Helping to Save Lives and Protect Property

ecomm 911 .ca Twitter: @EComm911_info

Burnaby RCMP Chief Superintendent Dave Critchley and E-Comm CEO David Guscott celebrate Burnaby RCMP’s successful transition to E-Comm.

Canada’s second largest RCMP detachment integrates dispatch with E-Comm

At 8:10 a.m. October 2, Burnaby RCMP’s emergency call-taking and dispatch were successfully integrated into the regional emergency communications centre, becoming the 14th police agency to be dispatched by E-Comm and the third to join in less than one year. Burnaby City Council announced in February that it would be relocating its police dispatch operations to E-Comm after an extensive evaluation of their current operations determined a move would provide increased sustainability, risk mitigation and significant cost savings.

The transition of Canada’s second largest RCMP detachment to E-Comm is another positive step toward the amalgamation of multiple police dispatch centres within the region into a larger, more Continued on next page >>

Burnaby RCMP transition >>> continued from page one

integrated communications model. This shared approach to dispatch means staffing and technical resources can be shared among all of the agencies dispatched by E-Comm, providing for increased capacity and faster police response when managing day-to-day emergencies and in times of peak 9-1-1 call volume. This shared approach complements and capitalizes on other regional emergency communication initiatives such as the single radio network provided by E-Comm for emergency services in Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford. “Prior to this transition Burnaby was limited in its capacity to handle high call volumes because of the number of call-takers on shift,” said Burnaby RCMP Chief Superintendent Dave Critchley. “But with crosstraining and the integration of resources, we can now react immediately to larger incidents in our community and handle significantly more simultaneous calls.” Burnaby RCMP Dispatcher Wanda Sleightholme

All Burnaby emergency communications operators prepares for Go-Live on October 2. were offered positions at E-Comm and transitioned employees are continuing to perform the duties they were responsible for at the Burnaby detachment. Extensive training sessions were arranged in the weeks leading up to the transition so staff could familiarize themselves with their new surroundings, while E-Comm employees were busy learning about Burnaby’s operations, community and geography in order to provide a broader base of support for their new colleagues. “Our partnership with E-Comm will allow us to continue to provide our community with quality police service in a cost effective and operationally-efficient manner,” explained Councillor Pietro Calendino, chair of Burnaby’s Community Policing Committee. “This transition offers us several key advantages such as enhanced cross-communication between agencies, a larger workforce for better coverage during major and extended emergency events and access to top-tier technology.” “We believe that integrating police services, including dispatch operations, is a key element in helping create safer communities throughout B.C.,” said David Guscott, E-Comm president and CEO. “Our new partnership with Burnaby RCMP is a significant milestone for our organization, and we are committed to ensuring the detachment receives high-quality, responsive, resilient service, 24-hours a day.”


Message from leadership

E-Comm is dedicated to ensuring the future of emergency communications meets the level of service, protection and security that our agencies and citizens deserve and have come to expect. Since its inception, our organization has worked diligently to connect emergency services in southwest British Columbia—be it through our radio network, 9-1-1 call-answer service or the integration of our police and fire dispatch services. We share the same goals as our partners in police, fire and ambulance and are proud to work shoulder-to-shoulder with them in creating the safest, most resilient and secure region possible. In the spring issue of e-communiqué we reported on the evolution of E-Comm’s regional radio system, an initiative we call the Next Generation Radio Program (NGRP). This is the E-Comm CEO David Guscott largest and most complex technology project we’ve undertaken since the first E-Comm radio system in 1999. Preparations are well underway for this multi-year major transition. We anticipate the new radio system will be fully rolled-out to all participating agencies by the end of 2017. Key benefits of the NGRP include enhanced audio quality, improved security and resiliency, capacity for expansion—all with an annual cost that is about the same as the current system. October was an important month for the NGRP which is currently in phase one of the Proof-ofConcept stage for audio performance testing. Representatives from all emergency services—police, fire and ambulance—were involved in this testing and will continue to be as their involvement in every step of the NGRP is critical. To that end, a cross-agency working group, comprised of representatives from our police, fire and ambulance users has been struck and they are working collaboratively with the E-Comm team on this significant modernization. The working group is chaired by Richmond Fire-Rescue Chief John McGowan, and co-chaired by Vancouver Police Department Inspector Joanne McCormick. Their leadership and the participation of all members cannot be overstated. E-Comm’s role in public safety will continue to grow in the coming years, particularly as we work to implement the essential technological requirements for today’s inter-connected world. Advancing technical systems and maintaining our operational strength and service in a rapidly changing world is one way we will demonstrate our value to our shareholders, partners and the public. For more information on the Next Generation Radio Program, please turn to page 4 for a special NGRP Question and Answer section. David Guscott, CEO



Next Generation Radio Program

The Next Generation Radio Program (NGRP) is a multi-year planned initiative to enhance and modernize the E-Comm regional radio system. Below are some of the most common questions related to this critical project:

What is the Next Generation Radio Program? In short, NGRP is the transition of the current shared E-Comm radio system (800 MHz EDACS – Enhanced Digital Access Communications System) used by dispatchers, police officers, firefighters and paramedics to next generation radio technology known as “Project 25” (P25) in the 700 MHz band. The NGRP has an estimated capital cost of between $40-$60 million.

Why does the radio system need to change? When the original radio system was first rolled out in 1999, there was a specific lifespan for both user equipment and infrastructure. The current technology is approaching the end of its service life.

What are P25 standards? P25 is a suite of standards for digital radio communications for use by public-safety agencies in North America. P25 standards were developed by public-safety users in conjunction with radio manufacturers. P25 is an open standard and is not proprietary to a single manufacturer.


What are the benefits of P25 digital radio technology? Just as high-definition digital TVs provide a clearer picture, P25 digital radio systems have clearer audio and also provide increased security through the use of advanced encryption techniques.

Which emergency services will move to the Next Generation Radio Network? Police and ambulance services have been using digital radio technology since 1999 and 2000 respectively. All police agencies on the current E-Comm radio network and the BC Ambulance Service (Lower Mainland) will move to the P25 standard as part of the NGRP. Currently, fire services utilize analogue channels on the shared radio network, as they provide greater clarity when working in high-noise environments. However, due to significant advancements over the past few years with regard to the performance of digital audio in fire-fighting environments, audio from P25 digital radios is now very comparable to audio from analogue radios.

When is the new radio system anticipated to be in place? The plan is to build out the new network in parallel with the current network before any agencies transition. This will allow for more comprehensive end-to-end testing and the ability to provide a more expedient transition strategy. Preparations are underway now for this multi-year major transition. We anticipate the new radio system will be fully rolledout to all participating agencies by the end of 2017.

How will the next generation radio network be funded? The annual cost of the new radio network is estimated to be about the same as the annual cost of the current network. This is because the Next Generation Radio Program will be funded through annual levies, much the same way the current radio system is paid for. The majority of capital is borrowed and paid back over time, not unlike a mortgage.

Vancouver Police Department’s Sgt Jennifer Keyes tests new P25 technology.


9-1-1 experts discuss mission-critical issues British Columbia’s leading 9-1-1 experts, including police, fire and ambulance representatives, primary and secondary Public-Safety Answer Points and telecom providers, recently attended a two-day meeting hosted by the Association of 9-1-1 Service Providers of BC (ABC9-1-1) to discuss current and future challenges related to the evolution of the province’s various 9-1-1 systems. New 9-1-1 technology offers benefits, but will require

The October meeting commenced with a presentation from TELUS regarding changes to how 9-1-1 calls will be routed through new Internet Protocol-based technology in preparation for Next Generation 9-1-1. Chris Kellett from the CRTC’s Emergency Services Working Group also provided the group with an overview of their work regarding enhancement of 9-1-1 across Canada. Chris’ presentation included information on planning for, and implementation of, the required technical infrastructure for NG9-1-1, the significant operational changes that will need to be undertaken within 9-1-1 centres (e.g. training, policy change etc.,) and the necessary public outreach on capabilities and limitations of the “new 9-1-1.” training and policy changes.

Other presentations included social media and emergency communications, BCAS’ new provincial call overflow configuration and a facilitated discussion on industry standards and how they are being applied in relation to fire dispatch. “The real value in these meetings lies in the dialogue that occurs,” explained Doug Watson, E-Comm vice-president of Operations and ABC9-1-1 director. “As we continue to move toward Next Generation 9-1-1 it’s important for providers to engage in conversation around the benefits and challenges of this evolution, and to be able to develop best practices in terms of the new technology and operational processes and polices.” The sole focus of ABC9-1-1 is on Public-Safety Answering Points’ perspective on 9-1-1 systems (and by default, emergency call-taking and dispatch operations). Two day meetings are held twice a year throughout the province, with the first day consisting of training topics that focus on innovation and improvement of 9-1-1 emergency call centres, emergency response and dispatch operations. The following day continues discussion of these topics but has more of a business focus during the formal association meeting. For more information visit www.abc911.ca.


Boosting cross-border public safety a priority for industry leaders


order Forum Cross-B bbotsford Series A

Efforts to improve cross-border public safety progressed at the Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group (CITIG) Cross-Border Forum on September 18 in Abbotsford.

In attendance for the event were public-safety officials, representatives from emergency management agencies, government, utilities, non-governmental Industry leaders gather in support of cross-border public safety. organizations and academia from across B.C., Washington State and Alaska. An important platform for networking and the sharing of information, the event also featured numerous presentations, including a discussion led by E-Comm’s Vice-President of Technology Services Mike Webb and CITIG’s Lance Valcour titled: 700 MHz Broadband for Mission Critical. Data: Why should you care? “This workshop resulted in a number of new connections, opportunities and exchanges of information across borders,” said Webb. “It was great to get feedback from local participants about the current cross-border interoperability situation and discuss the next steps relevant to interoperability and strategic planning in the region.” Those in attendance spent the day engaged in conversations on spectrum management, communications strategies, provincial and regional initiatives and information on regional interoperability. Highlights included a presentation by S/Sgt Crosby-Jones from the Abbotsford Police Department on a recent “border-runner” event related to drug smuggling across the international border. S/Sgt Crosby-Jones described in detail how the operation was executed from the perspective of the various Canadian and U.S. agencies involved, the lessons learned and the agency relationships that were established and will be leveraged moving forward. B.C. Ambulance Services Director of Dispatch Operations Gordon Kirk, also spoke about the crossborder protocol that has been established with the Washington State Department of Health for the movement of emergency medical responders across the border. This discussion recognized the work and support offered each day to those south of the border as well as Canadians traveling in the U.S. Other activities included information on various interoperability programs, projects, current trends and issues taking place in Canada, the U.S. and other neighbouring provinces and states.


9-1-1 saves lives: teach kids how to make the call

E-Comm Fire Dispatcher Jeanine teaches Aidan (age 7) and Eva (age 4) about the proper use of 9-1-1.

This September E-Comm reminded parents and caregivers that a safe start to the school year is the best start—and it all begins with teaching children how and when to call 9-1-1. A list of tips was developed to highlight the importance of making 9-1-1 education part of back-to-school preparations along with an audio demonstration of a simulated 9-1-1 call. “It’s so important for kids to know what to do during an emergency,” said Cameron MacPherson, E-Comm fire call-taker. “Dialing 9-1-1 can seem pretty scary when you’re young and feeling frightened. We want children to know that we’re here to help.” Tips ranged from ensuring that children know their home address to providing information for those who speak English as a second language. Parents and caregivers were also reminded to practise role-playing different emergency situations. The simulated 9-1-1 call was produced as an additional resource for parents and caregivers to listen to with their kids so they learn what to expect when calling 9-1-1. These tips and audio were shared with media through a news release and E-Comm’s social media channels on Twitter and YouTube to encourage parents and caregivers to learn more about 9-1-1. To listen to the audio, visit ecomm911.ca.


Fire Prevention Week highlights importance of kitchen safety Emergency Services across Canada reached out to the public during Fire Prevention Week (October 6-12) in their own creative ways to increase fire safety awareness and to remind people to “stand by your pan.”

Most house fires start in the kitchen Learn how to prevent them www.fpoa.bc.ca Fire Prevention Week 2013

Proudly supporting New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services

Follow us on Twitter for important tips & info: @ EComm911_info

From YouTube videos, to editorials and Open Houses, fire departments supported this year’s Fire Prevention Week theme “Prevent Kitchen Fires” in every possible way. In partnership with New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services, E-Comm created a short video that featured the dangers of grease fires and tips on how to prevent them from starting in your kitchen. E-Comm issued the video along with a news release that included the top five 9-1-1 kitchenrelated fire calls received from partner service areas. “There are too many examples of how fast something so simple can go extremely wrong in the kitchen,” explained Jennifer Gjaltema, E-Comm Fire Dispatch Manager. “Taking steps to prevent fires from starting in your kitchen can be life-saving.”

Fire Prevention Week is a national initiative to promote fire safety through education. It strives to bring awareness to the dangers of fire and ways we can protect ourselves that include checking smoke alarms regularly, planning escape routes from your homes and never leaving your home with food on the stove or in the oven.


ShakeOut your emergency preparedness plan

On October 17 more than 690,000 British Columbians practised how to drop, cover, and hold on during this year’s province-wide earthquake drill, ShakeOut. Natural disasters can strike at any time and this annual event stands as an important reminder for everyone to plan ahead. Although there are many redundancies built into telephone networks, a major disaster such as an earthquake could impact service, including access to 9-1-1 (another good reason to have a personal emergency plan). One of the most important ways people can support emergency services after an earthquake, large or small, is to stay off phones while service is restored or to keep congestion to a minimum. Here’s how you can help us help: •

After the shaking stops and it’s safe to come out from cover, ensure all phones are on the hook.

Do not use the telephone immediately unless a life is at stake. Do not call 9-1-1 for information or to ask questions about the earthquake. Help keep 9-1-1 lines free for those with serious emergencies.

If you have a serious emergency, dial 9-1-1. If you hear a busy signal, hang up and dial again. If you receive a recorded announcement, stay on the line and wait for a call-taker. Do not hang up. Your call will be answered as soon as possible. Listen to your radio and TV for instructions and information, including finding out when it’s clear to call relatives and friends.

For additional information on emergency planning visit www.embc.gov.bc.ca


E-Comm in the Community Raise-a-Reader On September 25, ALI joined other celebrity mascots on the streets of downtown Vancouver to help raise funds for literacy programs across B.C.

E-Comm’s 9-1-1 ambassador ALI and Vancouver Canuck David Booth come together for Raise-a-Reader.

E-Comm supports Cops for Cancer E-Comm presented Cops for Cancer with a $4,662.50 cheque during their stop at E-Comm on September 23.

E-Comm staff are greeted by the Cops for Cancer tour on September 23.

Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) E-Comm hosted an information booth at this year’s UBCM conference and exhibition on September 18 and 19.

Cops & Kids E-Comm attended the 8th annual Cops & Kids event on September 15. The back-to-school safety event also included VPD patrol officers, motorcycle squads and more.

Burnaby RCMP Open House On September 14, E-Comm attended the Burnaby RCMP Open House that included exhibits and demonstrations.


E-Comm service by the numbers July – September 2013

9-1-1- service levels 9-1-1 calls placed to E-Comm Service level* 239,730 98% * Service Level Target: 95% of all 9-1-1 calls answered in five seconds or less.

Number of 9-1-1 calls from landlines and cellphones

Landline Cellular 79,746 159,984 33% 67%

9-1-1 calls directed to police, fire and ambulance Police. ................................. 69% Ambulance . ........................................ 25%


Fire . ............................................. 6%

9-1-1 availability: 100%

System availability System air time (seconds) Transmissions (#)


System availability average



E-Comm mission

E-Comm vision

E-Comm values

To deliver exceptional emergency communication services that help save lives and protect property, and to advance public-safety partnerships.

Safer communities in British Columbia through excellence in public-safety communication.

Respect, Accountability, Integrity, Service, Collaboration

This newsletter is produced by E-Comm Corporate Communications. For more information on E-Comm or to comment on a story, contact: corpcomm@ecomm911.ca


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