IMPROVED TECHNOLOGY FOR SITUATIONAL AWARENESS AND INTEROPERABILITY
90% of Nova Scotians agree that the communication and GPS technology used by police services needs to be improved. (Pollara, July 2022)
The mass casualty event in Nova Scotia was an unpredictable and complex event that required swift response from various frontline services, including an integrated and cohesive approach from multiple police services. This integrated approach had to be quickly executed in a rapidly evolving and high-stress environment.
Interoperability issues between first responders and public safety personnel have been discussed in other major events, including Moncton in 2014. The independent review that followed recognized there were challenges with communications systems including radio technology and use, interoperability, and encryption, which limited effective communications between officers during the incident. [i]
Part of the post-event examination of the Portapique mass casualty event has included evidence that demonstrated RCMP Members and dispatchers provided regular updates to other districts and police agencies throughout by telephone calls and “be on the look out” (“BOLO”) alerts. The available technology however, limited the effectiveness of this interagency communication.
Establishing consistent and interoperable systems is integral for effectively sharing information between police services while minimizing risk of disjointed response or information gaps. [ii]
Throughout the MCC, a lack of adequate access to technology such as GPS, radio, case management, and dispatch systems, and high-resolution satellite mapping was demonstrated. These tools would have aided the RCMP’s efforts on the ground and improved the integration of other police services in the response. Going forward we need to learn from these events and must allow for incident commanders to better track and communicate with Members of the RCMP and other police agencies.
Recommendation 18: The RCMP acquire and implement technology necessary to:
- Immediately equip all specialized and unmarked vehicles (e.g., ERT, EMRT, PDS, TAV, GIS, FIS) with MWS.
- As soon as possible and no later than December 2023, equip the OCC/CIC and all Members with, and train all Members in the use of, GPS and mapping technology to allow them to be tracked and monitored in and out of their vehicles in real time, such as the Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK) system and/or a GPS-enabled portable radio system that integrates with CIIDS.
- Integrate the computer aided dispatching systems used in its operational communications centres, such as by establishing a “super agency” CAD, to enable the tracking and monitoring of Members across provincial borders.
Recommendation 19: The Province of Nova Scotia:
- Consult with the RCMP and municipal police agencies to develop a procurement strategy for the adoption of technology that allows for a common operating picture and situational awareness during a multi-agency response.
- Adopt a provincial standard requiring, at a minimum, that all municipal police agencies in Nova Scotia adopt GPS and mapping technology to allow their general duty and specialist members to be tracked and monitored by their dispatchers both in and out of their vehicles, in real time.
Recommendation 20: The RCMP and all municipal police agencies in Nova Scotia:
- Adopt and maintain up-to-date satellite mapping technology, such as Pictometry, capable of providing high-resolution images of all areas within their policing jurisdictions.
- Provide training to Critical Incident Commanders, Risk Managers, dispatchers, and frontline supervisors on the use and functionality of the mapping technology, which should be refreshed on an annual basis.
Recommendation 21: The Province of Nova Scotia lead a collaborative initiative involving all public safety agencies, similar to that used to develop the TMR2 radio system, to achieve records and communications interoperability between all police agencies, including to adopt:
- A common CAD system, or CAD systems that are interoperable, so that accurate information can be shared and accessed easily between public safety agencies in real time as a critical incident unfolds.
- A provincial standard requiring all police agencies in Nova Scotia to operate on PROS, or another common records management system.
[i] June 2014. RCMP Response to the MacNeil Report. [Online] Available at: https://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/rcmp-response-macneil-report-independent-review-moncton-shooting-june-4-2014
[ii] May 2022. Interagency Communication, Collaboration, and Interoperability within Police Services and between Police Services and Other Emergency Services. [Online] Available at: https://masscasualtycommission.ca/files/commissioned-reports/COMM0058936.pdf?t=1657212213