Research and Event History
The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA), the Canadian Police Research Centre (CPRC), and the Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group (CITIG) have been working together since February 2006 to close the gap between First Responders and their procurement of advanced and appropriate information and communication technologies (ICT). This collaboration has involved numerous national research projects aimed at understanding and addressing Canadian First Responder ICT challenges, the cumulative findings of which identified the need for a Vendor Outreach Forum (VOF).
For the fourth consecutive year, CATA, CPRC, and CITIG are hosting a uniquely formatted and innovative First Responder VOF. Once again, the Forum will provide ICT and advanced security vendors and First Responder/Public Safety and Security (PSS) leaders with an opportunity to engage with one another to shape the direction of industry R&D, address current issues through cooperative action, and commence developing a Technology Roadmap for Canadian First Responders.
Building on the successful model and results realized during the 2008 Toronto Forum, the 2009 Calgary Forum, the 2010 Atlantic Forum, and the intelligence documented in the resulting Summary Reports, this year’s VOF will seek to gather regional intelligence around the ICT needs of British Columbia’s First Responders, and will once again include excellent national and international representation.
The Road to Vancouver 2011
The inaugural launch of this planned series of national VOFs was hosted in Toronto on October 8 – 9, 2008 in Toronto. This groundbreaking event brought North American ICT companies together with Canada’s First Responders and PSS representatives to help shape the future direction of industry R&D efforts and lay the foundation for a Technology Roadmap for First Responders.
Feedback from First Responder and vendor attendees dictated that it was critical that CATA host another similar Forum to continue to build on the intelligence gathered, and to facilitate further interaction between these two groups as this communication is considered a key means to solving Canada interoperability issues. Thus, on October 21 – 22, 2009, the second First Responder VOF was held in Calgary, Alberta followed by Halifax on Sept. 28 – 29, 2010.
Over the course of these two-day Forums, leading Canadian and international ICT and advanced security technology providers/solution consultants met with key influencers on First Responder and public safety science and technology procurement needs and practices for an interactive session offering information sharing, discussion, and networking.
The Forums included a series of information sessions led by some of Canada’s leading First Responder and PSS authorities, including from organizations such as the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, and Emergency Medical Services Chiefs of Canada, as well as representation from China. A town hall forum was held where a lively debate addressed the opportunities and challenges shared during this quorum of business and emergency services leaders.
Key findings from the discussions, as documented in the Summary Report, include:
- Lack of Interoperability continues to be a major obstacle to First Responder utilization of technological advances in their field
- Understanding the Interoperability Continuum is critical for all stakeholders: The five main issues in order of importance are Governance, Standard Operating Procedures, Technology, Training and Exercises, and Usage
- A lack of funding was seen as the greatest barrier in preventing First Responders from adopting premier technology and advance security products/services – individually, stakeholder should contact their local MPs to bring this issue to the forefront
- A lack of funding itself does not prevent First Responders from working together to improve interoperability via enhanced governance and regional/provincial/international cooperation
- Vendors identified that as First Responder procurement specialists cannot meet with them one-on-one (to avoid perceptions of the procurement process being tainted) they are hard pressed to understand their needs or point to existing solutions
- The Forum was identified by both Vendors and First Responders as a powerful and effective vehicle for bringing vendors and First Responders together in a neutral setting and enabling for a rich and impactful exchange of intelligence, strong networking, and identifying solutions for immediate and future technological needs
Two important next steps (among others) as identified by those in attendance at the Forum include:
- In collaboration with government and other stakeholders, CATA should continue to hold a regular series of similar Forums across the country as they enable Vendors and First Responders a unique opportunity to meet and share information and ideas in an open and neutral environment.
- Develop a Technology Roadmap for First Responders: identify technologies Canadian First Responders agree are most critical and use multi-stakeholder consultations to assist in the prediction of future technology and product needs. The process should also help identify technology gaps, assist in driving R&D decisions, and through the sharing of ideas and information by recognized thought leaders, help to establish the necessary partnerships and stakeholders required to advance the strategic direction of the Roadmap itself.