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E-Comm celebrates 22 years of public safety services

Today marks 22 years of helping to save lives and protect property in British Columbia.

Before E-Comm came to be, first responders operated on their own independent radio systems – which meant that police, fire and ambulance personnel were not able to communicate with one another. When the Stanley Cup riots broke out in Vancouver in 1994, the Vancouver Police were forced to request back up from neighbouring RCMP detachments and other first responders. Police, paramedics, and firefighters found themselves in danger when they could not communicate with one another to help diffuse the crowds because their radios were not compatible. During this time, it became very clear that a new, consolidated system was needed. E-Comm was born to be the owner and operator of this new radio system, now the largest multi-jurisdictional, tri-service emergency radio system in British Columbia, and it was decided the organization would begin 9-1-1 call answer and dispatch as well. On June 8, 1999, E-Comm 9-1-1 officially opened its doors, answering the very first 9-1-1 call for the Vancouver Police at the brand new emergency communications centre.

Over two decades later, E-Comm has grown to a team of more than 700 public safety communications professionals across four locations. We serve as the first point of contact for 9-1-1 callers in 25 regional districts and provide dispatch services for 73 police and fire agencies, handling more than 1.8 million 9-1-1 calls a year.

E-Comm plays an integral role in helping save lives and protect property in British Columbia. While we have evolved over the last 22 years, one thing remains the same: our passion for public safety. We extend a big thank you to all of our past and present partners, board members, stakeholders and every employee at E-Comm that plays an integral role in keeping our communities safe.

Have you made a call to 9-1-1 before? Canadians are likely to call 9-1-1 at least twice in their lifetime. Whether you have been impacted by an emergency, or you want to recognize the behind-the-scenes heroes who keep our community safe, you can thank an E-Comm staff member below.

Thank a 9-1-1 Hero

E-Comm paves the way for B.C.’s new 9-1-1 system with successful test call transfer

Earlier this month, E-Comm completed the first successful call transfer in a test Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) environment from its Lower Mainland emergency communications centre to Calgary 9-1-1’s centre. This marks a monumental step toward B.C.’s province-wide transition to NG9-1-1.

NG9-1-1 is a federally mandated initiative to evolve and modernize existing 9-1-1 services across Canada. The new network will enhance 9-1-1 services by adapting to emerging voice, text messaging and multi-media services. Although the existing 9-1-1 service is resilient and reliable, it was originally designed for landline devices. Currently, when you call 9-1-1 from a cellphone, call takers receive very minimal information. The new NG9-1-1 technology will provide additional caller identification and location information from cellphones—information that is essential for effective and fast emergence response.

Not only will NG9-1-1 improve 9-1-1 systems across the country, but it will also ensure that the life-saving systems remain effective, secure and resilient.

Want to learn more about Next Generation 9-1-1? Listen to Chief Innovation Officer Mike Webb here as he provides insight into the current 9-1-1 system and explains how the new NG9-1-1 network will enhance emergency response.

E-Comm Voice Systems Technologist Gary Tam performs successful NG9-1-1 Transfer Call on April 1, 2021.

COVID-19 Resources

Please help us keep 9-1-1 lines free emergencies. Do not call 9-1-1 to ask questions about Public Health Orders or to report violations of COVID-19 health restrictions unless there is a life or death emergency requiring immediate action from first responders.

For COVID-19 related enquiries, refer to the following resources instead:

  • To report violations of COVID-19 health restrictions, please contact your local by-law office or call your local police non-emergency line
    • In Vancouver, please call 3-1-1 or report your concern online
  • Dial 1-888-COVID-19 for non-medical information about COVID-19 (available 7:30am-8pm)
  • If you are sick or feel like you might have COVID-19, use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool or call 8-1-1 to help determine if you need further assessment or testing
  • Visit your local health authority website for regional information
  • Visit your local police agency website for information about front counter closures and availability of services such as fingerprinting and criminal record checks
  • Report suspicious cross-border activities to the Canada Border Services Agency border watch line at 1-888-502-9060
  • For information on the latest travel restrictions in British Columbia, please visit the BC Government’s website on Travel and COVID-19

B.C.’s 9-1-1 system one step closer to modernization

Vancouver, B.C. – April 27, 2021—E-Comm, in close collaboration with its technology partners at TELUS, Avaya, Komutel and NICE, has successfully received and transferred a voice call in a Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) test environment. NG9-1-1 is a Canada-wide initiative to evolve and modernize existing 9-1-1 services to adapt to emerging technology while ensuring the life-saving system remains effective, secure, and resilient. This marks the first successful test call transfer to be made over the new network, currently in development by TELUS; Western Canada’s 9-1-1 network provider.

The successful call transfer, completed earlier this month (April 1) from E-Comm’s Lower Mainland emergency communications centre to Calgary 9-1-1’s centre, is a monumental step towards B.C.’s province-wide transition to NG9-1-1. Interprovincial call transfers of this type, including the automatic transfer of critical information such as the caller’s location, are not currently possible with existing 9-1-1 systems anywhere in Canada. Nation-wide interoperability through the NG9-1-1 system will allow for more coordination and faster response should someone need to call 9-1-1 on behalf of a friend or family member across the country.

Although the existing 9-1-1 system is both resilient and reliable, these new upgrades will help adapt to the fast-paced evolution of modern technology. The new system promises enhanced calling features such as improved wireless location accuracy, additional information related to the 9-1-1 caller readily available to call takers, and improved interoperability and data sharing between 9-1-1 centres. All of these enhancements will aid in faster emergency response across the country, along with future capability to communicate with 9-1-1 call takers through a specialized Real-Time Text messaging service.

The next steps in E-Comm’s NG9-1-1 testing work, will be integrating the new call-handling system with existing emergency dispatch technology and conducting call transfer testing with additional emergency response agencies, such as BC Emergency Health Services.

E-Comm Quote

“Our Next Generation 9-1-1 efforts have been focused on ensuring our test environment matches the reliability and functionality of the existing 9-1-1 system. This first successful call transfer proves that we are nearing that stage. It’s a very exciting step in the shift to improved emergency communications, and ultimately emergency response, for the residents of British Columbia.” – Mike Webb, Chief Innovation Officer and NG9-1-1 project lead, E-Comm.

TELUS quote

“As B.C.’s 9-1-1 network provider, ensuring British Columbians have reliable access to 9-1-1 and emergency services is of the highest priority at TELUS. We are privileged to work alongside E-Comm and other partners to bring British Columbians the latest in 9-1-1 technology, ensuring better outcomes for those in need of vital emergency response and services.” – Marshall Berkin, VP of Industry Solutions, TELUS Business.

Avaya quote

“In situations where every second counts, situational awareness and seamless communication can make all the difference. This new ability to share real-time data and collaborate with public safety significantly breaks down communication silos and enables first responders with detailed, life-saving data. Avaya is the only communication solution provider spanning the continuum of public safety–from the enterprise office worker placing an emergency call, to the call takers answering 9-1-1 calls, to mobile first responders, and to healthcare professionals at hospitals and trauma centers. It’s a critical role and we are committed to driving continued innovation that can save lives.” Allan Mendelsohn, Principal Consultant, and Public Safety Practice Lead, Avaya.

Komutel quote

“This is an exciting milestone towards achieving a Next Generations 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) infrastructure in order to better serve and protect people in Canada. We are very grateful to be collaborating with visionary partners like E-Comm and look forward to the successful launch of new 9-1-1 features and capabilities in the years to come.” – Yves Laliberte, President, Komutel.

NICE quote

“As a Public Safety leader with a rich history in IP communications, NICE is honored to partner with E-Comm on this NG9-1-1 modernization initiative. As a system of record for 9-1-1 centers, our NENA i3 compliant solution, NICE Inform, captures all next generation emergency communications to ensure they’re always available for evidence or quality assurance, and to give managers unprecedented insight into what’s performing, what isn’t and why.” – Chris Wooten, Executive Vice President, NICE.

Calgary 9-1-1 quote

“Calgary 9-1-1 is excited to be part of the work being done to prepare Canada for Next Generation 9-1-1. It has been a pleasure working with E-Comm and TELUS on these successful transfers and realizing the future that NG9-1-1 will offer. It has been an outstanding effort by the CRTC Emergency Services Working Group in guiding these collaborative efforts among 9-1-1 centers, equipment vendors and service providers. We look forward to continuing this journey that will transform our future by delivering new services such as real time texting, telematics and more for our citizens.” – Ravi Valavandan, Communication Systems Engineer, Calgary 9-1-1.

E-Comm Voice Systems Technologist Gary Tam performs successful NG9-1-1 Transfer Call on April 1, 2021.

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About Next Generation 9-1-1

Next Generation 9-1-1 is a CRTC-mandated initiative requiring Canadian 9-1-1 network providers, such as TELUS and Bell, to work with Telecommunications Service Providers and Emergency Communications Centres across the country to evolve and modernize existing 9-1-1 networks, allowing them to adapt to new and emerging voice, text messaging and multi-media services. This new NG9-1-1 network will significantly enhance 9-1-1 service in Canada by changing to dedicated Internet-based networks that support modern new features while ensuring this life-saving system remains effective, secure, and resilient. The telecommunications regulatory structure for NG 9-1-1 was set out in CRTC Telecom Regulatory Policy 2017-182 and related decisions by the CRTC.

Media Contacts:

E-Comm
Kaila Butler
media@ecomm911.ca

TELUS
Liz Sauve
liz.sauve@telus.com

Avaya
Alex Alias
alalias@avaya.com

Komutel
Genevieve Thibodeau
genevieve.thibodeau@komutel.com

NICE
Chris Irwin-Dudek
Chris.Irwin-Dudek@nice.com

Calgary 9-1-1
Media Line
403-828-2954

Thank a 9-1-1 Hero

Until the moment you have a reason to call 9-1-1, many people may take emergency service call takers and dispatchers for granted. They are the unsung heroes who, in that moment of reaching out for safety and help, suddenly become the most important people in your world. From 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers to technology specialists and support staff, every employee at E-Comm plays an integral role in keeping our communities safe.

Emergency Service Dispatcher’s and 9-1-1 Awareness Week runs from April 4-10, as proclaimed by the Province of British Columbia, and we want to take this opportunity to celebrate the hard work, commitment and dedication of our emergency communications staff—a.k.a., the heroes behind the headsets!

Whether you have been directly impacted during an emergency, or you want to recognize hard work that goes on behind the scenes in keeping our communities safe, here is a chance to thank an E-Comm staff member.

Thank a 9-1-1 Hero

E-Comm is the first point of contact for 9-1-1 callers in 25 regional districts in British Columbia and provides dispatch services for more than 70 police agencies and fire departments across the province. E‐Comm also owns and operates the largest multi‐jurisdictional, tri‐service, wide‐area radio network in the province used by police, fire and ambulance personnel throughout Metro Vancouver and parts of the Fraser Valley.

Please note: This form is not intended for complaints. Please see the Contact Us page for more information. To thank a paramedic, ambulance dispatcher or call taker who helped you in a medical emergency, visit BC Emergency Health Services.

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