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Public-safety agencies call for united action

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Public-safety agencies call for united action

The need to secure 20 MHz of the 700 MHz broadband spectrum for the sole use of public-safety agencies in Canada remains a top priority for first responders, says the leadership of the national bodies representing fire chiefs, emergency medical services and police services.

April 25, 2011
By Stefanie Croley

April 25, 2011 – The need to secure 20 MHz of the 700 MHz broadband spectrum for the sole use of public-safety agencies in Canada remains a top priority for first responders, says the leadership of the national bodies representing fire chiefs, emergency medical services and police services. This comes at the conclusion of a two-day meeting in Montreal on emergency services management in Canada.

“Public safety needs a dedicated laneway on the information highway to protect our members and the Canadian public during large-scale events, emergencies and to respond to day-to-day needs,” say the co-chairs of the Tri-Service Special Purpose Committee on 700 MHz for Mission Critical Public Safety Data. “As the frequency, intensity and complexity of incidents continues to increase, Canadian public safety agencies have an ever-increasing need to access critical data and video networks in order to facilitate more effective responses and in order to protect and save lives. The emerging tools to assist responders require significantly more spectrum than presently available.”

The committee says the utilization of the 700 MHz broadband spectrum is now with Industry Canada, which has indicated it will make a final determination by August 2011. The spectrum is highly valued because of its finite availability and properties, which allows for easier penetration of signals in densely populated areas.

“This is a valuable and valued spectrum,” says the committee. “It’s imperative that public safety agencies have a dedicated portion for its use; otherwise during emergencies we could be competing with users downloading movies or playing video games while we attempt to secure the safety of our members and the Canadian public.”

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The committee points out that the United States government has already confirmed its intention to dedicate 20 MHz for use by its public safety agencies. A similar move by the Canadian government would allow for interoperability along Canada’s border.

“It is recognized that this issue comes up during a federal election,” says the committee. “We also acknowledge that at least one of the major political parties has indicated at a very high level that it would undertake this action, promising to ‘set aside spectrum for emergency responders.’ However, to us, this is not an election or partisan issue. Rather, it is an issue of vital importance to all Canadians and we urge all parties to support this key plank in Canada’s information infrastructure.”

The committee says that in addition to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) and the Emergency Medical Services Chiefs of Canada (EMSCC), organizations such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Canadian Association of Police Boards have made this a priority.

For more information on 700 MHz Broadband for Mission Critical Public Safety Data, visit www.action700.ca.


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