Next Generation 9-1-1 in Canada: Frequently Asked Questions

Next Generation 9-1-1 in Canada: Frequently Asked Questions

As Canada begins its journey on the road to Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1), there are umpteen questions on everyone’s mind: the how, why, when, what and many more. Find your answers below to some of the most frequently asked questions about NG9-1-1 in the Public Safety industry.
1. What is Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1)?

NG9-1-1 is the transition of 9-1-1 from analog systems to IP-based systems. The change will enhance emergency number (9-1-1) services to create a faster, more resilient system allowing voice, data, photos, videos and text messages to flow seamlessly from the public to 911. NG911 will also improve Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) ability to help manage call overload situations, natural disasters and transfer of 911 calls. NG9-1-1 will also improve jurisdictional response based on device location for wireless and VoIP telephone services and traditional voice 9-1-1 calls using civic address-based landlines. For more info, visit:

2. How is NG9-1-1 different from existing 9-1-1?

The existing 9-1-1 platform is based on an analog network designed to deliver landline (or fixed line) voice calls to a PSAP. In NG9-1-1, routing of calls to 9-1-1 will occur based on GIS systems instead of the current tabular MSAG method. Soon, the legacy analog networks used for transport of 9-1-1 calls will be replaced by the Emergency Services Internet Protocol Network (ESInet). This “network of networks” will mean faster delivery of calls and information to agencies providing 9-1-1 service. More efficient call transport mechanisms and enhanced tools for PSAPs/ECCs, in turn, will translate to faster emergency response. For more info, visit:

3. How will NG9-1-1 benefit Canadians?

NG9-1-1 will enhance the safety of Canadians by allowing the use of new media and data for reporting emergencies and events; for example, streaming video from an emergency incident, sending photos of accident damage or of a fleeing suspect, or sending personal medical information–such information could greatly aid emergency responders and provide greater situational awareness.

4. How will GIS be critical for NG9-1-1 success?

Effectiveness of the NG9-1-1 system will be dependent on the GIS data used. The success of NG9-1-1 will be heavily dependent on authoritative GIS data and services to enable more efficacy in geospatial call routing, helping to reduce emergency response times and save more lives and property–a primary goal of emergency responders and public safety management and stakeholders.

The delivery of NG9-1-1 calls will require defined PSAP response polygons and use of an MSAG consisting of structured datasets (for example, road networks and addressing). Service will require mapping applications or solutions that include an integrated mapping component (for example, in a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) System) for dispatching, emergency response and other public safety applications. For more info, visit:

5. What is Emergency Services IP Network (ESINet)?

A managed IP network used only for emergency services communications, which can be shared by all public safety agencies. It provides the IP transport infrastructure, upon which independent application platforms and core services can be deployed, including but not restricted to those necessary for providing NG9-1-1 services. ESInets may be constructed from a mix of dedicated and shared facilities. ESInets may be interconnected at local, regional, provincial, federal, national and international levels to form an IP-based inter-network (a network of networks). The term ESInet designates the network, but not the services that function on the network.

6. What is a Public safety Answering Point (PSAP)?

A PSAP is an entity responsible for receiving 9-1-1 calls and event notifications for a defined geographic area. PSAPs process calls according to specific operational policies. PSAPs are also commonly referred to as Emergency Communication Centres.

7. What has call routing got to do in NG911?

Call routing is the process through which a 9-1-1 call is delivered to the geographically-appropriate PSAP, based on the location of the calling device. Geospatial call routing enables more accurate call routing than traditional E9-1-1 systems and can reduce the number of 9-1-1 call transfers due to misrouted 9-1-1 calls. This, in turn, can help reduce emergency response times and save more lives and property-a primary goal of emergency responders and public safety management and stakeholders.

To route 9-1-1 calls based on location, the NG9-1-1 system must be provisioned with GIS data depicting the PSAP service area boundaries. If the location of a 9-1-1 call is a civic location, this must be converted into map coordinates to be intersected with the PSAP boundary polygon. This conversion can be accomplished using an address point layer in the GIS, a site/structure polygon layer where each polygon is tagged with civic address location attributes, or an address ranged road centreline layer.

8. Where can I find information on the GIS Data Model for NG9-1-1?

The GIS Data Model is available at This document substantially refers to US standards, and the Emergency Services Working Group (ESWG) is in the process of modifying this data model for Canada.

CRTC and the ESWG
9. What is the CRTC’s role in NG9-1-1?

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulates telecommunications service providers (a.k.a ESInet Providers in NG9-1-1) which supply the networks needed to direct and connect 9-1-1 calls to PSAPs.

10. What is the implementation timeline handed down by the CRTC?

The CRTC has mandated that the NG9-1-1 networks must be ready to deliver NG9-1-1 voice services by June 2020 and deliver NG9-1-1 text messaging services (Real Time Text) by December 2020 with additional services to be added over time. Furthermore, the current analog 9-1-1 network is to be decommissioned beginning June 2023.

11. Where can I find the CRTC’s information on NG9-1-1?

CRTC regulates and supervises broadcasting and telecommunications in the public interest. More information on NG9-1-1 can be found at

12. What is ESWG and its role in NG9-1-1?

The national Emergency Services Working Group (ESWG) is composed of Telecommunication Service Providers, Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) personnel, and 9-1-1 industry specialists. The Working Group addresses issues related to the provisioning of 9-1-1 services. This includes the technical and operational implementation of 9-1-1 services as assigned by the CRTC or as requested by stakeholders. Find more info at

13. Does ESWG have any information on governance and funding for NG9-1-1?

ESWG has released an FAQ on NG9-1-1 governance and funding which can be accessed here. We’ll update more information from them as it becomes public.

14. What is ESTF0092?

The ESWG manages its work on the operational and technical implementation of NG9-1-1 through Task Identification Forms. ESTF0092 is the task to deliver a Canadian NG9-1-1 Mapping (GIS) Data Model, a Common Civic Addressing Format and associated Best Practices Report to the CRTC. Further details on ESTF0092 can be found at

15. How does NG9-1-1 leverage my local government’s data?

Traditionally, GIS data (street centrelines) plays many roles in legacy 9-1-1. Since the late 1990s, GIS is most commonly used to provide tactical mapping for 9-1-1 telecommunicators, dispatchers, and emergency responders. Tactical mapping systems reduce emergency response time by identifying the location of emergency calls on a map and compute best routes to the scene for emergency responders. Valuable supplemental “on the ground” information, not limited to fire hydrant locations and valve specifications, network camera locations, and premise information including contacts, physical structure information, and owner and tenant data, is also provided by GIS. Where this data came from, and how often it was updated varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

For NG9-1-1, GIS data provisioned to the ECRF/LVF and PSAP mapping (CAD) systems must first be created and must also be maintained over time by the authoritative source.   The primary authoritative source for GIS data required by NG9-1-1 is typically the local government.

Esri Canada’s role in NG9-1-1?
16. What is Esri Canada’s role in the implementation of NG9-1-1?

Together with the national Emergency Systems Working Group (ESWG), Esri Canada has been engaged in developing this data model and standards specification; it is currently assisting organizations with their management processes with respect to civic addressing standards, data governance and NG9-1-1 strategic planning.

17. How can Esri Canada support your vision of getting your data ready for NG9-1-1?

Esri Canada’s team of GIS, transportation, municipal and public safety subject matter experts can perform data gap analysis, technical compliance assessment, QA/QC and staff training for organizations to get on the road to NG9-1-1.

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