Emergency services in the 6ix are getting an upgrade. Toronto's new 911 system is being developed and key new additions are going to be the introduction of texting emergency service response personnel. This should be possible within about a year, and the plan is ultimately for callers to be able to send photos and video footage to first responders, too.
According to CBC, this new system is part of efforts to bring Toronto's emergency services up to modern standards. It is a joint scheme by all three Toronto services, police, fire, and paramedic.
A key point of this new approach will be the increased ability to pinpoint locations as emergency situations unfold.
"It's the first major advancement in 911 technology more or less since they started the three-digit number," said Toronto Police Supt. Hugh Ferguson via CBC.
"The reality is that the system was designed decades ago when the phone was on the wall or a desk."
The ability to text 911 should arrive in the city in the next year or so, suggests CBC.
Increased services like sending pictures and videos, which are intended to help the description and reporting of suspected crimes, will only be possible once texting is established and doing well.
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Part of the reason for this is the crucially important issue of verification when it comes to photo and video "evidence."
As Ferguson says, in a perfect world, photo and video submissions would help to eradicate the problem of subjectivity in verbal descriptions.
"Everybody is slightly different in the way they describe a colour, or style of a jacket that someone's wearing," said Ferguson.
"If you could have a picture of the person as you're driving to a call, wow, that's miles ahead of where we are now."
However, although a working model of this plan would likely yield an effective and easier approach, another potential pitfall could be the continued reporting of prank calls or unnecessary emergencies.
Another key idea is that the new system will offer better location and tracking services.
That would theoretically make cases like the recent abduction of teenager Shammah Jolayemi more solvable, and more quickly.
For the moment, both police and paramedics are looking for the right vendor to help build this system.