Calling 911 is serious business and every second is essencial to getting the needed emergency assistance. Late last year the CRTC announced plans to review how 911 services could be improved, plus how “next-generation networks” will make use of texting and GPS signals from a wireless device. The initial CRTC review will be completed by May, then a formal review is expected in 2014-2015.
Today, the Alberta government announced their intention to introduce a few changes to “address a number of challenges facing Alberta’s 911 call centres.” Apparently in Alberta there’s over 2.7 million cellphone subscribers that “can account for up to 70 per cent of all calls they receive.” Unfortunately there’s no stats available of the yearly 911 calls, but most likely there’s a growing number of “pocket-dials.” In the press release the Alberta government noted that “unlike landline users, cellphone users do not directly contribute to the cost of 911 services.” So their plan is to possibly implement the following changes:
- creating the ability for the government to introduce, in collaboration with 911 service providers, province-wide standards for 911 processes and procedures;
- giving 911 call centres more legal protection;
- supporting 911 call centres’ efforts to integrate “next generation” 911 technology like GPS and texting;
- introducing penalties for prank 911 calls;
- ensuring equity among phone users in contributing to the cost of 911 service.
Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths said “Alberta’s 911 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.”
There’s no doubt that 911 cellphone usage, along with GPS and texting, will play an important role moving forward. It’ll be interesting to see how the public reacts to the government potentially “introducing penalties for prank 911 calls.” No word on what the penalty price will be or how a prank call is determined, nor how it will be implemented and tracked.