Ottawa

Ottawa police getting ready for 911 system changes

The Ottawa Police Services Board signed off on a nearly $650,000 contract Monday night to get the force ready for major upgrades coming next year to the 911 system.

Force approves contract to make texting 911 possible

Chief Charles Bordeleau says the new system will allow people to send text messages and videos to 911 operators. 0:51

The Ottawa Police Services Board signed off on a nearly $650,000 contract Monday night to get the force ready for major upgrades coming next year to how 911 works.

Starting in 2020, Canadians will be able to text 911 and eventually send videos and photos through the service.

Those changes mean upgrades both to the police service's communication centre and to the city-run 911 service.

"I think it is something that we welcome, but we want to be sure we are ready for it," said police Chief Charles Bordeleau

Under the new contract, Telus is providing new systems that will work with the upgraded 911 system and allow the force to store photos and videos.

Police expect they will also need to ask for $96,000 more a year for maintenance on the system. 

Telus already provides technical support to the force.

The police want the new system in place this fall so training can take place before the new 911 system is tested early in 2020.

More digital needs 

Bordeleau said the force accepts it's going to be storing a lot more digital evidence and it's working to adapt to that.

"If you look at digital evidence as a whole that is a challenge for us, but that's why we're investing a significant amount in our digital infrastructure," he said.

He pointed to child pornography cases as an example where 20 years ago the force would have been dealing with printed materials, but now has to handle large amounts of digital material.

The upgrades in this contract only cover police communications, so other work will have to be done on the 911 call centre, which the City of Ottawa oversees.

Bordeleau said they're working with the city on those improvements as well.

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