July 25 – E-Comm’s investigation into intermittent technical issues which appear to have impacted some callers’ ability to contact 9-1-1 on Sunday, April 24, has now been completed. The emergency communications centre is confirming all issues have been resolved, with system redundancy being fully restored and tested shortly after the incident.
The investigation found that the disruption was a result of a series of isolated technical malfunctions, related to important system changes/upgrades to the back-up network that had been put on hold or not fully tested due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Issues that were experienced on April 24 included temporarily not being able to transfer 9-1-1 calls within the back-up network (this was quickly identified and resolved), intermittent audio issues for some Vancouver Island callers, and in some regions in the central and southern interior there were issues with 9-1-1 calls failing over to back-up mode resulting in calls being triaged temporarily by the BC Ambulance Service.
These technological issues occurred during a planned E-Comm evacuation exercise, which was scheduled as part of the organization’s regular preventative maintenance work and routine redundancy planning. The intermittent issues experienced were unusual compared to previous evacuations, and during this time, E-Comm’s operational and technology leadership teams worked diligently to ensure there was as little impact to incoming calls as possible.
During planned evacuation exercises, E-Comm call takers and dispatchers operate from a back-up site allowing the team to stress-test evacuation procedures and systems, while simultaneously conducting critical technical maintenance and upgrades on primary systems and networks while these are not operational.
With the constantly-evolving nature of technology, each planned evacuation exercise – including the one on April 24 – provides E-Comm and its technology partners with key learnings and insights used to enhance the back-up network and improve the overall stability of the platform.
In response to what was learned from this investigation, E-Comm is enhancing communications between the organization and its technology partners, adding extra checks and balances to processes, and increasing the early monitoring of systems to help identify and address issues more quickly.
April 24 – On Sunday, April 24, E-Comm experienced intermittent technical issues which appear to have had an impact on some callers’ ability to contact 9-1-1.
These technological issues occurred during a planned evacuation exercise, which was scheduled as part of the organization’s preventative maintenance work and routine redundancy planning. During this time, E-Comm call-taking and dispatch operations moved to a back-up site to execute and stress-test evacuation procedures and systems, while allowing for critical technical maintenance and upgrades to take place at its emergency communications centres.
The intermittent technical issues experienced on April 24 were unusual compared to previous evacuations, and E-Comm worked diligently to ensure there was as little impact to incoming calls as possible. The organization’s top priority is to now identify the root cause(s) of these challenges, and E-Comm is working closely with its core technology partners to conduct a full investigation. Once the investigation is complete, the results and key findings will be made public.
All 9-1-1 services are currently functioning normally across the province. Any British Columbian experiencing an emergency situation should dial 9-1-1 as usual to get the urgent help they require.