Chatham-Kent police have launched a new call management system to improve emergency response and service ahead of the Next Generation 9-1-1 system.
"With the ever-increasing call volumes, CKPS has recognized the need for an efficient call queue management system to ensure that every call is answered promptly," said CKPS Public Information Officer Lynette Rosina. "The new system will enable callers to stay on the line and receive a message assuring them that their call will be answered as soon as possible."
A new map feature that identifies and prioritizes calls unrelated to significant incidents has also been introduced to further enhance call management.
"This feature ensures that emergency lines are available for critical situations, preventing any potential tie-ups that may hinder immediate response," Rosina said.
She said callers will be transferred to the Emergency Communications Centre (ECC) with a customized message when calling the non-emergency line, adding it is "essential" that callers don't hang up and, if their call is an emergency, hang up and dial 9-1-1 directly.
This prioritization ensures that 9-1-1 calls receive immediate attention and are prioritized in the call queue, said Rosina.
"This investment in technology is a proactive step towards the future of NG9-1-1, ensuring that Chatham-Kent remains at the forefront of emergency communication systems," she added.
Rosina said non-emergency calls were not tying up the lines, but the automated response advising the caller to stay on the line and hang up if it’s an emergency was not available before to help with call prioritization and to advise the public in a more structured and informed manner.
Rosina cited an example of the mapping feature, saying if there is an incident in a location that generates significant call volumes and a call is received in a completely different geographical area, the Emergency Communication Operator can select the non-related calls first in the queue to allow non-related emergency calls to be answered quicker and not held in long hold queues.
She also said nobody gets booted from the calls, adding non-emergency calls go into call management queues with the message advising callers to hold and the map management feature would then kick-in.
"Improper use of 9-1-1 is always a battle we have and we try to combat it through social media education campaigns. Anytime we have to handle 9-1-1 calls that are not emergencies, we run the risk of a delay in an emergency-related call not getting answered as swiftly," noted Rosina.
Chatham-Kent police received just over $1.9 million from the province a month ago to upgrade their 9-1-1 communications.
The province said to successfully transition to the Next Generation 9-1-1 system, significant technology and infrastructure upgrades are required, including new telephone systems, call handling systems, internal network infrastructure, and cyber security infrastructure.
Next Generation 9-1-1 will enable voice, text messages, and data to flow seamlessly from the public to 9-1-1 communications centres when emergency assistance is required. It will also give emergency operators and dispatchers the ability to identify the location of a call using GPS coordinates, resulting in a safer, faster, and more informed emergency response, according to the provincial government.
Emergency communications centres across the province have until March 4, 2025 to transition their networks from analog to digital, as mandated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), a public organization in Canada that regulates broadcasting and telecommunications.