Today's (Sunday Aug 25) headline article in the Los Angeles Times
"Cellphones swamping 911 system" is about the inevitable horrible
overload of the wireless 911 system because it is, in effect, the "auto
club" to the average dim bulb.
Because of this many calls to wireless 911 are being delayed or lost.
So much for having a wireless phone as your "home phone."
But, those of us who understand how this stuff works are wasting our
breath trying to tell most people about real E911 and wireless 911.
I don't even trust Vonage to get it right; i.e., they are neither fish
nor foul when it comes to 911.
This is one of about three reasons I keep a wireline appearance in my
residence even though I have Vonage.
One thing I do -- as a University of Georgia faculty member -- is make sure
I know the direct line number to the Campus Police so that if something
happens on campus, I can call them without going through the 911 system.
Could anyone comment on the following questions?
1) Is 911 now universal through the U.S., that is, does every US phone
support at least some form of 911?
2) Originally 911 (from the 1960s) siezed the line and routed to an
emergency center, but it did not provide any database display.
Extended 911 did this and some other features. Does the entire US now
3) On new cell phones, there is supposedly a locator function so that
the 911 dispatcher can tell where a cell phone call is located. I
can't believe that's universal (the 911 center having the technology
to do that) in the U.S., indeed, I suspect only a few places can do
Regarding campus emergency response, which has been in the news lately
per VaTech, I think a simple thing like a central bell signal system
and loudspeaker would be more effective to communicate instructions in
an emergency than mass emails or cell phone messaging, and maybe
cheaper, too. Buildings already have fire bells, use them in a coded
sequence for different alerts, eg, stay in class, air raid, disperse,
Poor communication is blamed for VaTech, but I think when something
like that happens--which is totally an irrational and unpredictable
act--there really isn't any effective defense at all. In other words,
keeping people locked down inside may be more dangerous than
dispersing them, or vice-versa. No one could know in such a situation
the right answer. I don't think anyone could say--as critics are
doing--what VaTech could've done better or differently in response to
the shootings. I know family members are very upset, but it doesn't
I hate to say, but situations like this are unavoidable. Thank
goodness they're extremely rare. There are lots of very unstable
troubled people out there, but very, very few actually go do what this
guy did. Many incidents were totally unexpected.
Colleges are implementing all sorts of high tech measures in response
and I can't help but wonder if its overdone. (Same thing with high
schools after Columbine). Sometimes our cures are worse than the
[public replies please]
P.S. I used to have a client at an office complex that had,
surprisingly, no security at all. You'd park and walk right in.
(Recently they fenced their grounds and have a guard challenge you.)
There was a nice feeling of informality about the old way that I miss
these days, needing to show my ID card everywhere I go bothers me.
Makes sense: not everything that "happens" is an emergency.
Also, old 911 list a university as the main entrance address! Fat lot of
help that would be in an emergency. Experienced E911 operators know
the number of the Campus Police by heart, I'll betcha!
So, my question is, does E911 these days list more detailed addresses
within a campus?
It can. It depends on whether or not the campus switch network
has been upgraded to suport E911 (multiple ANIs) and has made
use of that feature. There are also several companies that
make add-on products that add that capability to older switches.
Approximately 1/3 of the states mandate that campuses locate
emergency calls fairly close to the origin.
Depends on the campus phone system. If the campus phone system just hands
the call off on an analogue trunk, there's no way for the E911 system to
tell where it comes from in any more detail than the switch room at the
That is why our local sheriff publishes both a 10 digit emergency number
and a 10 digit non-emergency number. ***** Moderator's Note *****
What's the schedule for implementing 311? It was supposed to be the
universal "non emergency" number.