911 texting coming to P.E.I.

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Getting help in an emergency is going to get easier for Islanders who are speech or hearing impaired thanks to an upgrade that will allow them to text the 911 system.

To complete the upgrade, the provincial government plans to spend $650,000 over five years, including $125,000 in 2014-2015.

Public Safety Minister Janice Sherry said the change comes after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced plans to allow people with speech and hearing impairments to send text messages to 911 in an emergency.

“The CRTC will do its main system and then as a province we will connect in to that to be able to provide services in Prince Edward Island to people who are speech or hearing impaired,” she said.

In January the CRTC announced that wireless and telephone companies had to upgrade their networks by Jan. 24, 2014 to support 911 texting.

The feature, however, will only be available nationally in areas where supporting changes in technoogy are also made at the local level.

In P.E.I. that’s the provincial government which has agreed to come on board.

Sherry said there are improvements made to technology all the time and the latest system upgrade is no different.

“It’s the ability for people to access and be able to use the systems more efficiently,” she said.

Once the telephone and wireless companies get their systems upgraded in January, the province will be able to move ahead with its plans right away, Sherry said.

Organizations: Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island

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