Next Generation 911 (NG911) is a nationwide, standards-based, all-IP emergency communications infrastructure that enables voice and multimedia communications between a 911 caller and a 911 centre, and then on to responders in the field. Private citizens in need of emergency assistance can send photos, videos, texts, as well as make voice calls to 911 professionals. All this information can be shared with field responders and incident commanders. NG911 is a secure, standards-based system. Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPS) benefit from enhanced tools, better information, effective response abilities and interoperability with other PSAPS and emergency operations centres.

What’s changed?

Across Canada, the public safety 911 community is facing a critical, pivotal moment in its history. The existing 911 system was designed in an era of landline telephones and assumes the calls are coming from fixed, known addresses. Today, the high majority of 911 emergency calls originate from smartphones and IP devices, often while away from home addresses. As a result, these changes are driving this historic evolution to NG911.

NG911 & CRTC

The Commission approves the recommendations made by the CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee’s (CISC) Emergency Services Working Group (ESWG) regarding the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) i3 architecture standard for Next-Generation 911 (NG911) services.

CRTC Telecom Decision 2015-531.

Below is a diagram of the NG911 Network spanning 9,985 million km2 to serve over 37.6 million Canadians in 10 provinces and 3 territories. NG911 will leverage 911 specific application functionality on an Emergency Services IP Network (ESInet) to add speed, redundancy, and security to the telecommunications system, thereby supporting national inter-networking of 911 services.

NG 9-1-1 Network illustration

The effort to transition all emergency call taking and dispatching from legacy e911 to NG911 is a massive undertaking. CRTC is working to coordinate the preparation of the NG911 Network Architecture for Emergency Management Offices (EMO), PSAPS and other emergency responders to procure, implement and rollout their respective emergency services using NG911 standardized technology that meets NENA standards. This work is well underway.

On February 17, 2022, Bell’s NG911 Core network officially moved to full production carrying live 911 calls. This is a key milestone and the first truly NENA i3-compliant ESInet/NGCS in North America. This Marks the beginning of the PSAP onboarding process and marks the start of the end-to-end transition to NG911 in Canada (North America).

Congratulations to the Bell Canada team (9-1-1, Landline, and Wireless) for being the first truly NENA i3-compliant ESInet/NGCS in North America! The next step is the PSAP Onboarding process – the start of end-to-end NG911 in Canada (North America).”

Because most 911 systems were originally built using analog rather than digital technologies, PSAPs across the country need to be upgraded to a digital or Internet Protocol (IP)-based 911 system, commonly referred to as Next Generation 911 (NG911). The success and reliability of 911 will be improved with the implementation of NG911 as it will enhance emergency number services to create a faster, more resilient system that allows voice, photos, videos, and text messages to flow seamlessly from the public to the 911 network. NG911 will also improve PSAP ability to help manage call overload, natural disasters, and transferring of 911 calls and proper jurisdictional responses based on location tracking.

While the technology to implement these new IP-based 911 systems is available now, the transition to NG911 will involve much more than just new computer hardware and software. This change brings new obligations for call handling management and impacts to day-to-day operations, processes, training, contracts, policy, funding models and health & wellness programs.

The CRTC has mandated that NG911 networks must be ready to deliver NG911 voice services by March 2022 and deliver all NG911 text messaging services shortly after with additional services to be added over time. Furthermore, the current analog 911 network is to be decommissioned beginning March 2025. The US has been working on N911 transition since before 2017. Canada is now making significant strides to complete their transition by 2025. Canadian PSAPS are moving from various stages of legacy technology (B911, E911) to the full future and function of NG.

USA 2017
Canada 2020

Post NG911 implementation, and after legacy systems are decommissioned, the 911 architecture will look like the diagram below. This connection must be stable and secure. The transition from legacy technology to NG911 network and technology must be seamless without any impact to operations and the delivery of emergency services.

9-1-1 architecture diagram

The Capstone team is currently leading Nova Scotia’s 911 emergency response transition. We’ve learned that NG911 transitions have a tremendous impact on training and process enhancements to support the new technology, functionality and facility features. Our NG911 Modernization team includes emergency service project managers, fire and emergency services business analyst(s), fire operations, administration and training subject matter experts, national expert on privacy, international expert on cyber security and threat risk assessment, nationally recognized change manager leading a Canadian consortium of NG911 training and change management.

We have a deep knowledge NG911 technical requirements, Nena standards, CRTC progress and timelines, Bell/Telco governance and implementation/transition options suitable for PSAPs. We bring our knowledge and experience of NG911 procurement, vendor assessment, technology evaluations, service package appraisal and collaborative implementation planning and delivery practices to this project.

Capstone’s NG911 Modernization team is assisting EMO’s, PSAPS and other emergency services to proactively adjust from legacy systems and practices to NG911 technology and services delivery.