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February 18, 2009
For immediate release
CRTC Decision Will Mean Improved 911 Response
Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour
Canadian wireless service providers have been given one year to upgrade their 911 service, a move that will help emergency service providers respond more quickly to 911 calls made from cellular phones.
On February 2, 2009, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) told Canadian wireless service providers they had to upgrade their 911 service with location-based technology, such as the Global Positioning System (GPS) or triangulation between cell towers to identify a 911 caller's location.
GPS uses satellites to identify a cellphone's location, but it often won't work if the caller is in a building, vehicle or even dense forest. Triangulation calculates the caller's location by analyzing the distance the cellphone's signal travels to reach three cell towers.
In anticipation of this ruling, the government of Prince Edward Island invested in the required equipment and software upgrades more than two years ago.
Aaron Campbell, Director of Public Safety for the province says, “The PEI Office of Public Safety has been lobbying hard for this very important service. More than 40% of all calls to 911 come from cellular phones and this number is increasing. As soon as the wireless service providers begin to transmit the information, the provincial 911 system will be able to receive the data.”
The CRTC gave wireless service providers until February 1, 2010 to put the required technology in place. The technology will enable emergency responders to pinpoint a caller's location generally within a radius of 10 to 300 metres. Such systems are widely employed in the United States.
The CRTC order is posted on the commission's website at www.crtc.gc.ca.