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Next-gen 911 coming to Greater Sudbury this year

Several years in the making, the new next-generation 911 system will allow callers to text and send photos and videos to 911 dispatchers, as well as have their precise location known
Greater Sudbury Police Service Communications and Information Technology manager Nathan Dokis speaks during this week’s police board meeting.

A “monumental change” is coming to Greater Sudbury’s 911 system, with the long talked-about introduction of next-generation 911 finally coming to fruition.

So described GSPS Communication and Information Technology manager Nathan Dokis, who announced a Q3 2024 launch during Wednesday’s police board meeting.

Infrastructure for the new 911 system is currently being installed through a series of phases anticipated to conclude by the third-quarter of the year, when it’s slated to be online.

“We’re getting very, very close to our cutover,” Dokis told of the big change, noting it’s the first major system-wide update in approximately 30 years.

“If you look at what the technological landscape was 30 years ago, cell phones were not necessarily a thing, the ability to send pictures and things like that were not readily available,” he said, adding the new system will cover these bases. 

Next-generation 911 will allow people to text and send files such as images and videos directly to 911 dispatchers, who will also receive more accurate information regarding callers’ location.

The example Dokis provided is that, using the existing system, dispatchers can determine what apartment building callers are in, but not the unit. The next-generation system will allow them to 3D map buildings and see which unit, including floor, they are on.

The new system will also allow all 911 call centres (Primary Service Access Points, of which there are 272 in Canada, including approximately 80 in Ontario) to freely share information with each other.

Right now, if a call is received in Sudbury but needs to be relayed to another jurisdiction such as North Bay, there’s no easy transfer of information collected. The new system would automatically share all of the data collected in Sudbury to the next jurisdiction.

Bandied about for the past several years, next-generation 911 came up as a priority in the wake of the 2013 Lake Wanapitei boat crash, in which three people died and an inquest revealed various shortcomings in how emergency situations are communicated.

The federal government has mandated that next-generation 911 services be in place at all Primary Service Access Points by March 1, 2025 (from the initial 2022 deadline, pushed back in the midst of the pandemic). asked a GSPS spokesperson what the total cost of the next-generation 911 system is anticipated to be, and somewhat dated numbers came back. 

This story will be updated in the event more up-to-date figures are provided, but the total estimated project cost as of Dec. 31, 2023, was approximately $1.8 million, and estimated provincial funding as of March 31, 2023, was approximately $1.2 million.

During this week's board meeting, an expenditure of almost $800,000, funded by the province, was approved to purchase infrastructure required to record all manner of 911 communications, including audio and what's displayed on screens. Additional funding has been approved for next-generation 911 in the province's 2023-24 budget, Dokis said.

Missing from the equation is the fact 911 service is still not available everywhere, meaning the next-generation 911 system will not affect all Ontarians.

In the story published last year on the 10-year anniversary of the Lake Wanapitei boat tragedy, Nickel Belt NDP MPP France Gélinas reiterated her push for a bill which would see to it that 911 service would be available throughout the province. Initially introduced as Bill 75, the NDP reintroduced the bill last year as Bill 107.

The Greater Sudbury 911 Emergency Communications Centre managed 5,572 calls to 911 in January, which was 35.9 per cent greater than the 4,099 calls to 911 they dealt with in January 2023.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for


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Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for
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