Interoperability Defined

“The ability of emergency personnel to communicate between jurisdictions, disciplines, and levels of government, using a variety of systems, as needed and as authorized.”

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CITIG: A Partnership that Works


To improve Canadian public safety interoperability at home and abroad through collaborative efforts, innovation and leadership.


When first responders can’t communicate during an emergency or major event, lives can be in jeopardy. In 2007, the Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group (CITIG) was created to improve Canadian public safety communications interoperability. At the time, CITIG was a responder-driven, federally-funded activity, led by Canadian Police Research Centre (CPRC) that brought together responders, academia, industry and government stakeholders who shared a common interest in enhancing Canada's communications interoperability and are dedicated to improving the safety and security of first responders, and the people and critical infrastructure of Canada.

That tradition continues, and as of 2012, CITIG is now managed in partnership by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) and Paramedic Chiefs of Canada (PCC).

Today, CITIG is made up of more than 1,900 volunteers from the responder community, all orders of government, non-governmental organizations, associations, academia and industry.

Facilitating Change

CITIG’s target community is the broad base of responders across Canada. This community represents more than 115,000 police, firefighter and paramedic responders in Canada, plus more than 100,000 volunteer responders who collectively provide public safety and security, fire and emergency medical response services to virtually all communities across Canada. These responders serve with 300 federal, provincial and municipal law enforcement agencies, 2600 fire services and more than 600 rescue/EMS agencies. They also interact with other key public safety and security groups including provincial/territorial and federal emergency management coordination departments and agencies, and key infrastructure operators of transportation and public utilities.

CITIG focuses on information-sharing and uniting stakeholders on issues effecting responder communications interoperability. While early efforts centered on voice communications, the scope of CITIG’s work has broadened to help stakeholders gain an understanding of, or work toward making progress on, key issues including:

  • national and cross border interoperability planning;
  • provincial, regional and local interoperability strategic planning;
  • interoperability and the challenge of governance;
  • trends in interoperability technology, including both voice and data related issues;
  • spectrum issues with a focus on 700 MHz and the “Digital Dividend”; and
  • situational awareness, common/user defined operating pictures, GIS systems and blue force tracking.

CITIG Outcomes

By all accounts, CITIG has been very successful since its inception. Overall, CITIG has:

  • significantly increased awareness about interoperability challenges and helped provide useful tools for practitioners and policy-makers to overcome those challenges;
  • promoted the effective use of resources, particularly through the sharing of best practices and by adapting international work to Canadian needs; and
  • enhanced communications within and cooperation among responder agencies, the main responder chief’s associations and between many levels of government, both inCanadaand internationally.

Specific achievements include:

  • helping to conceive, encourage and support the Canadian Communications Interoperability Plan (CCIP), led by Public Safety Canada, which defines a national vision to improve daily communication interoperability between emergency responders;
  • supported the creation and ongoing refinement of the Communications Interoperability Strategy for Canada (CISC) and its supporting Action Plan that sets goals and identifies key national priorities to enhance governance, planning, technology, training and exercises which promote interoperable voice and data communications for emergency responders, both day-to-day and during national emergencies;
  • initiating series of national interoperability workshops, cross-border interoperability workshops, vendor outreach forums and a successful program of regional forums designed to raise awareness amongst, and prompt action by, communications interoperability stakeholders;
  • directly facilitating (i.e., raising awareness about funding opportunities, helping to identify interoperability gaps, assisting public safety agencies to identify potential opportunities and partners, etc.) over $500,000 in CPRC funding for communications interoperability projects, and facilitating hundreds of thousands of dollars in inkind contributions by the CPRC and its partners; and
  • initiated solid ties with international collaborators such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and its Law Enforcement Information Management Section (LEIM), the Department of Homeland Security (Office of Emergency Management, Command Control and Interoperability and SAFECOM - Emergency Council and Emergency Response Council), the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the NASA Ames Center HUSAR Training Center, UK National Policing Improvement Agency, Australian Centre for Security and Policing and Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency.
This site is administered by volunteers committed to advancing public safety communications interoperability
and kindly hosted by the York Regional Police Service.

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