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Interior photographs of the Toronto Police Communications Centre, the host agency where all 911 calls are taken and dispatched in the city of Toronto, Ont., Jan. 7, 2010 (SARAH DEA/SARAH DEA for The Globe and Mail)
Interior photographs of the Toronto Police Communications Centre, the host agency where all 911 calls are taken and dispatched in the city of Toronto, Ont., Jan. 7, 2010 (SARAH DEA/SARAH DEA for The Globe and Mail)

CRTC plans text message 911 trial Add to ...

Canada’s telecom regulator plans to conduct a three-month trial that will use text messaging to improve the accessibility of 911 emergency services for people with hearing or speech problems.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission announced Thursday that its pilot project would enable 911 call centres to communicate with pre-registered participants in Vancouver, Toronto, Peel Region (located west of Toronto) and Montreal by text message.

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As part of the trial, those pre-selected callers would make “test 911 calls” to participating call centres, which would then respond by text message. Information gleaned from the project will help the CRTC determine whether it is possible to create a national program to improve public safety.

“This text messaging trial is one of several initiatives that the CRTC is exploring to improve the accessibility of communications services for the hearing and speech impaired,” said acting chairman Leonard Katz in a release.

“This trial will give us the technical and operational information we need before making a final decision on whether to expand the program nationwide.”

The trial project, which is scheduled to begin shortly, was the result of teamwork by public safety experts, telecom companies and individuals with hearing and speech impairments. The CRTC had asked that group to find solutions to improve the user-friendliness of 911 services following its accessibility decision in 2009.

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