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Province paying $150 million for overhaul of 911 system

E-Comm is getting $150 million from the B.C. government to do a full technology upgrade to its 911 emergency communications system.

Provincial officials said the current system is aging fast and not keeping up with current technology.

The new system will allow for the option of texting 911 and also improve location tracking.

Provincial officials said the old system could track calls from landlines with ease, but tracking the location of someone calling from a cell phone wasn’t always accurate.

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They said the new tracking will be able to pinpoint the exact location from a cell phone.

$90 million will go to the tech upgrades while $60 million will go to the Union of BC Municipalities to help with transitional costs.

This includes money for staffing, training and quality assurance.

“Keeping people safe is a core value of government,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services in a release.

“Working together with municipalities, regional districts and First Nations to improve emergency communications is vital to enhancing public safety for people living in and travelling through the most remote parts of the province.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said this won’t solve most of E-Comm’s staffing issues. He said they are currently working on fixes, which will be announced at a later date.

E-Comm handles approximately 99 per cent of 911 calls in B.C.

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