Despite Operations Communication Centre (OCC) staff appearing at a recent council meeting to raise concerns about E-Comm's performance level at taking emergency calls, the vice president denies any flaws with E-Comm's system.
At the Feb. 4 council meeting, council passed a motion that will see a move of its 911 police dispatch service to E-Comm. Almost one third of Burnaby's OCC call takers and dispatchers attended in hopes of stopping the transfer, but were unsuccessful.
However, Doug Watson, E-Comm's vice-president, says the concern over the not-for-profit's service is not valid.
"We have a stringent, rigorous standard," Watson said in an interview with the Burnaby NOW. "In 2012 we met the target and exceeded it."
Watson said he is pleased that Burnaby saw the value in working with E-Comm and that the residents of the city can expect a high level of service.
E-Comm receives approximately 2,500 calls a day and is expected to answer at least 95 per cent in less than five seconds, according to contracts with its several municipalities. According to Watson, about 98 per cent are answered in that time.
One concern raised by the OCC staff who turned up to the council meeting was an issue with red lighting, which is when calls are waiting to be answered.
Watson says it happens when there is a sudden higher volume of phone calls than normal, and they have a system in place to deal with it.
"We re-direct staff," he explained. "We re-direct operators who take on more calls."
There are currently 250 staffed at E-Comm, which could rise by another 32 as job offers are being worked out for the current OCC communication operators in Burnaby.
"The level of service we provide and measure against . is a testament to the service we provide to the citizens we serve," Watson noted as a key component about E-Comm.
City staff recommended the move, and to cut cost from the budget-as it will save $100,000 annually-after a year of extensive review of E-Comm's service model.
"More and more municipalities examined the service model on their own and came to their own conclusions," said Burnaby's city deputy manager Lambert Chu. "We've gone through the evaluation, tests and [E-Comm's] proven their abilities to handle emergency calls. We have come to that conclusion on our own."
Chu noted E-Comm exceeded it's 95 per cent target to answer emergency calls quickly and that all emergency calls already go through E-Comm, which then sends the calls out to Burnaby's OCC.
"E-Comm is not new to Burnaby; it was established 20 years ago," Chu said. "Burnaby looked into the model, the dispatch services at that time, but E-Comm was going through a steep learning curve."
About one year ago, E-Comm re-expressed an interest in providing its services to Burnaby. Staff, along with members of the RCMP, CUPE 23 and city staffers, launched an investigation-including visits to E-Comm, according to Chu.
Chief superintendent Dave Critchley, officer in charge of the Burnaby RCMP detachment, said city staff put the project forward as a cost-savings measure.
He noted all the research was done by the city and is the city's decision, and whatever the city decides, his office supports.
There are 30 police and fire departments subscribing to the E-Comm dispatch service, which was established in the late 1990s as the emergency communication centre for southwest B.C.
For more information visit www. ecomm911.ca.