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Sicamous to receive funding to upgrade emergency response information systems

Federal Next Generation 911 program funding local governments with $45K to support public safety
The Sicamous Fire Department may receive additional training thanks to the Next Generation 911 funding the district gets to upgrade emergency response information and infrastructure. (Rebecca Willson-Eagle Valley News)

Sicamous is to receive funding to help update information for emergency responders.

Next Generation 9-1-1 is a federally mandated program, run through the Union of BC Municipalities, sending funding to local governments to update information systems and infrastructure emergency responders use to locate people in crisis.

It’s a modernization of systems, said district planner Sarah Martin in an update to council at the July 26 committee of the whole meeting, intended to “support improvements to public safety.”

Local governments are responsible for providing response outlets with geographical information systems (GIS) and Martin said the overhaul is happening because many governments don’t follow any standard format as to how that data is forwarded or what information is attached to the raw data.

Specific data needs to be presented in a standardized way, including information about road centre lines, site structure address points and street names, as well as street name aliases.

Base funding in the amount of $45,000 is to be given to every local government, said Martin, and can be used to educate, pay legal and contract costs for the migration to the new system, mapping, GIS updates and training for local fire departments.

Sicamous’s planning department has been aware of the changes, she said, so groundwork has already been laid. The district’s mapping systems have already had updates done and other projects have integrated the system changes as well. Through department budgets, the district’s data set of address information has been rebuilt because the way the digital information was stored didn’t function suitably, said Martin. The civic addressing and street naming bylaw updates adopted at the March 8 council meeting are also intended to streamline the information.

Read more: Sicamous’ Old Town Road focus of proposed name/address changes

Sicamous could use the funds to recoup costs spent rebuilding the address information data set, said Martin, or to do further work on confirming road centerline and street name data. She added the district could hire a consultant to work on data aggregation and the district might want to collaborate with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.

Martin said she didn’t think emergency equipment itself needed to be updated, as the program focuses on information and mapping, but said she is confirming this.

“It’s more about knowing exactly where all the cross streets are, exactly how many address points are on that street, how far this is from the next intersection,” she explained. “911 responders need that to accurately locate where someone is.”

Read more: Armed man apprehended peacefully by police, tactical team in Malakwa


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Rebecca Willson

About the Author: Rebecca Willson

I took my first step into the journalism industry in November 2022 when I moved to Salmon Arm to work for the Observer and Eagle Valley News. I graduated with a journalism degree in December 2021 from MacEwan University in Edmonton.
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