St. Catharines is leading the way for local area municipalities as a new emergency call-handling system called Next Generation 911 is introduced in Niagara. The new system will bring innovative new technology to replace Ontario’s 30-year-old 911 voice-based infrastructure once it is fully operational. The first steps are getting underway with this year’s focus on installing the necessary infrastructure and staff training. 911 callers will have a new experience when connecting with emergency services once all the pieces are in place. The initial phase will allow communicators to receive and respond to texts with future phases allowing photos and videos to be shared as callers experience emergencies. The province is funding the majority of the new $5 million system mandated by the CRTC. St. Catharines Fire Services , Niagara Regional Police Service and Niagara Parks Police Service (NPPS) will share the remainder of the cost.
Other benefits of the modernized system will include improved 911 caller location information, improved responder safety and awareness, better response coordination during a natural disaster or large-scale emergency, language assistance / translation for non-native English speakers, and improved assistance for people who are deaf. The CRTC requirement means that all provinces, municipalities and their Primary Public Safety Answering Point providers need to meet the new NG-911 standards no later than March 4, 2025, at which time the legacy systems will be disconnected. For more information and a list of frequently asked questions, visit stcatharines.ca/NG911.