Public Safety Broadband Network
A Public Safety Broadband Network (PSBN) is a secure high-speed wireless data communications network. It can be used by emergency responders and public safety personnel to communicate with each other in emergency situations and during day-to-day operations, and holds the potential to improve the effectiveness and safety of first responders and the public safety community.
New technologies making use of a PSBN offer the potential to improve the safety and security of Canadians, including through improved communications infrastructure for first responders and governments.
In 2017-2018, the Government of Canada, through a Federal PSBN Task Team, consulted provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, first responders, the private sector, and various other stakeholders on implementation models for a PSBN in Canada.
This Task Team was comprised of representatives from Public Safety Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), and Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science (DRDC CSS).
The PSBN Task Team undertook a series of one-day stakeholder engagement workshops in six cities across the country, as well as one online engagement session. More than 200 stakeholders participated in these workshops. In addition, five full-day and four half-day user requirements sessions were held with approximately 135 first responders. All sessions took place between September 2017 and March 2018. Participants included provinces and territories, municipal governments, first responders, industry, critical infrastructure operators, representatives from small and remote communities, Indigenous community representatives and academia.
Additionally, a Request for Information targeting the private sector was submitted in 2018, and will inform the development of a PSBN for Canada.
Some of the most frequently discussed challenges facing current emergency communications included: coordination of a future PSBN; coverage in rural, remote and Northern areas; costs and potential implementation timelines; interoperability between Canada and the United States; capacity in small communities and volunteer organizations; and the relationship between a PSBN and existing land mobile radio networks.
The results of this consultation are published in a summary and posted on the Consulting with Canadians webpage.
Temporary National Coordination Office
Federal, Provincial and Territorial (FPT) Ministers Responsible for Emergency Management met in May 2018, to discuss joint Canadian priorities and the progress made to date. To strengthen emergency communications in Canada, Ministers endorsed guiding considerations for the future development of a PSBN across the country.
Acknowledging the benefits of a PSBN in Canada, Ministers also supported the establishment of a Temporary National Coordination Office (TNCO) in partnership with federal and provincial/territorial officials.
The office was jointly staffed by federal and provincial/territorial officials, tri-service representatives, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and other potential PSBN users, and became operational in summer 2018.
On June 28, 2019, the TNCO published a Progress Report on a National Public Safety Broadband Network to share information with stakeholders on the work accomplished to date on the establishment of a future PSBN for Canada. The TNCO wanted to ensure that the recommended approach would meet the needs of the public safety community following extensive research, analysis and stakeholder engagement.
On March 17, 2022, the TNCO published a final report, A Public Safety Broadband Network for Canada: A Canadian Approach to Implementation of the Next Generation of Public Safety Communications, following a presentation to FPT Ministers Responsible for Emergency Management. The final report includes the TNCO’s recommended approach for the development of a nationwide and interoperable PSBN that meets the needs of the public safety community. The TNCO developed national options and recommendations on a future PSBN for Canada, supported by research, analysis, and engagement with key stakeholders. Their recommendations include:
- a national governance approach;
- guiding principles;
- service delivery;
- innovative solutions to addressing coverage gaps and capacity challenges; and
- next steps for advancing a PSBN.
The TNCO has completed its two-year mandate to develop a national approach to advance a future PSBN, an initiative that has been in discussion for several years.
The transition to a PSBN will be complex and will require all levels of government to support its development. Continued collaboration among all levels of government, industry and end users is essential to develop a network that meets the diverse expectations and interests of stakeholders.
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