August 18, 2022
Public safety and emergency communications around the world are in a state of transition. With new technologies emerging, the public safety community needs access to up-to-date communications capabilities to ensure that they are able to protect Canadians and themselves.
In Canada, first responders and other stakeholders have been working towards the goal of a reliable, modern, nationwide and interoperable public safety broadband network (PSBN). A PSBN is a network that can be used by emergency responders and public safety personnel to communicate with each other, share and access information during day-to-day operations, weather-related incidents and natural disasters, emergencies and major events.
The benefits of a PSBN are far reaching and include enhancing emergency prevention and response; improving community safety; addressing the growing need for data transmission particularly in the context of Next Generation 9-1-1; providing a solution for current interoperability challenges; complementing Canada's National Public Alerting System; and broader socioeconomic impacts. The delivery of PSBN services also supports Priority 4 of the Emergency Management Strategy for Canada: Toward a Resilient 2030, which seeks to enhance disaster response capacity and coordination and foster the development of new capabilities.
In May 2018, Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) Ministers Responsible for Emergency Management collectively acknowledged the benefits of a PSBN in Canada and endorsed the establishment of a Temporary National Coordination Office (TNCO). Since its establishment in July 2018, members of the TNCO have collaborated to consult with stakeholders and gather their views, conduct research and analysis, and propose a way forward to improve emergency communications in the public safety domain. In June 2020, the TNCO concluded its two-year mandate to develop a national approach to advance a potential Canadian PSBN, and presents this report to FPT governments for consideration. The report outlines a number of recommendations regarding a governance approach, guiding principles, service delivery, approaches to achieving robust coverage and capacity, and suggests next steps for advancing a PSBN.