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Public Safety Interoperability

Interoperability Defined

Interoperability is the ability of public safety agencies to exchange voice and/or data with one another on demand, real time, when needed and as authorized.

Why no Interoperability?

The top reasons that agencies and jurisdictions can’t to talk to each other include:

  • incompatible or aging communications equipment;
  • limited or fragmented funding;
  • limited or fragmented planning;
  • lack of coordination and cooperation; and
  • availability of radio spectrum.

Who does this affect?

There are more than 115,000 police officers, firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel in Canada, not to mention the over 100,000 volunteers that provide fire and medical first response services to their communities. They serve with 300 provincial and municipal law enforcement agencies, 2600 fire departments and more than 600 rescue departments, plus federal law enforcement and other agencies such as provincial/territorial and federal emergency management, transportation and public utilities. Most Canadians would be shocked to learn that these agencies can rarely talk to one another because their communications systems are NOT interoperable.

How do we achieve Interoperability?

CITIG facilitates work in the different tracks of the SAFECOM© Interoperability Continuum — the framework adopted in Canada to assist emergency response agencies and policy makers to plan and implement interoperability solutions for data and voice communications. The Continuum’s elements include governance, standard operating procedures, technology, training/exercises, and usage of interoperable communications.

What can I do?

Achieving interoperability requires leadership and direct and frequent dialogue among public safety decision-makers. You can do your part by:

  • taking a long-term and public safety-focussed view when considering planning and funding decisions involving communications technology;
  • committing to working with other agencies at the local level to raise awareness about public safety interoperability and to ensure coordinated approaches for voice communications, IT operations and other service delivery methods and approaches; and
  • making interoperability a strategic priority and requiring your organization to examine its interoperability capabilities and begin creating an Interoperability strategic plan.
This site is administered by volunteers committed to advancing public safety communications interoperability
and kindly hosted by the York Regional Police Service.