New equipment installation is all part of CREST’s change in technology to better serve emergency service providers on the Peninsula. (photo / contributed)

CREST technology goes digital

System handles one call every four seconds

A technology renewal project by CREST (Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications), the organization that currently serves to co-ordinate communications between 50 emergency response agencies in the Capital Region, is well underway and comes just in time to meet the ever-expanding needs on the Saanich Peninsula.

In a proactive undertaking between CREST and the Town of Sidney, CREST has arranged for dedicated, purpose-built space in Sidney’s public safety building currently under construction. The new building will house a future CREST transmission site to address the new commercial area on the west side of the Patricia Bay highway, as well as increasing activity at the Victoria International Airport.

“Rumours that this new system is somehow caused by these factors are unfounded,” said CREST General Manager Gordon Horth.

“The old system went live in 2003 and the average lifespan of these systems is about 15 years,” added Horth, “so the upgrade was going to happen.”

Even so, the upgrading of the system comes at a fortuitous time for Sidney and the surrounding region.

“The new system moves us from using a combination of digital and analog technologies in the VHF wavelength range to a totally digital system in a dedicated bandwidth of 700 megahertz. That means that the signal will be far more capable of penetrating the thick concrete and steel structures being built throughout the Capital Region, including sites like the new shopping mall. It wasn’t a motivating factor for the change, but it is a side benefit,” said Horth.

Another effect of the change to the digital signal in a dedicated bandwidth is that the signals will be encrypted, making the outside monitoring of emergency channels far more difficult.

“In today’s world, we have to be aware of privacy concerns. When emergency crews are responding and giving out names and medical conditions it’s important that we try to aware of peoples privacy needs and the ability of anyone with a scanner to pick up that information under our current system,” noted Horth.

Sidney Fire Chief, Brett Mikkelsen, is looking forward to the new system and is thrilled that the main component of the new system will be located in the new public safety building.

“We found space within the building and it’s a great thing, given that the building is being constructed at the highest post-seismic building. I know the construction has seemed to be slow, but people have to realize that it’s being built upon 130 piles that have been driven right down to bedrock. If a large earthquake were to hit, that building would, in all likelihood, still be standing and our emergency communications system would remain intact,” explained Mikkelsen.

Already in place and being tested in the Victoria/Oak Bay/Saanich core of CREST operations, the system is slated to come online on the Peninsula by year’s end.

“We’ve already installed new equipment at one primary site (on the Peninsula) and are working on a physical upgrade on a second site. The main system will be in the public safety building and we are hopeful that we can start testing in September with an aim of cutting over to the new system in total by the end of this year,” said Horth.

The 50 emergency response agencies served by CREST represent more than 2,000 emergency service providers who rely on the system for communications. Those providers rely on the system 24/7, involving approximately eight million calls annually – one call every 4 seconds.

Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications Inc

Just Posted

Parkland musical theatre lights up the stage with Grease

North Saanich school stages show Jan. 30 to Feb. 2

City of Victoria endorses potential class action lawsuit against fossil fuel giants

Data will be gathered to quantify how much environmental damage the city has faced

Toronto Arrows players take aim at youth rugby clinic

Juan de Fuca team offers get acquainted clinics

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Braves host 2019 Prospects Game, Saturday at Pearkes

Campbell River to host VIJHL All-Star Game, Sunday

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Suspect allegedly armed with handgun robs Island gas station

Incident occurred Sunday night in Nanaimo

Most Read