9-1-1 Awareness, part four

More on the last series on Enhanced 9-1-1 in the State of New Hampshire.

I mentioned Supplemental ALI being so exclusive, that if you were to Google it, the State’s Department of Safety’s page on this subject is on the first page of results. This special service is stored in a state database and when the number gets triggered into the state’s CTI system, this is how the special needs data appears.

This feature also can be used locally as I stated some states mandate in house Supplemental ALI provided by the customer if they have a MLTS. Be warned, if you make changes, you have to update your database. Cubicle numbers, conference rooms can appear, depending on the setup.

The 9-1-1 system as we know it in terms of the “magical” factor is less than 20 years old. In order for E-9-1-1 to work, you would need a digital telephone switch provided by the telephone company. Second, the equipment necessary to handle the calls. The best pratice is for the PSAP to have their own digital telephone system, ideally a PBX or some moderate duty like a Strata, Norstar, CX3300, or a Legend/Magix system that requires digital trunks or something that can pass the ANI and ALI over. For that part it would require a special computer system as well. Also for cell phones, geotagging systems would also have to be installed. And given the digital nature of things, it’s better to record calls and electronically store them for 90 days like what we have here in case of criminal investigation or evidence to be shown to trial.

While E 9-1-1 made it’s first mark in Chicago in the early 1980s, it wasn’t till the late 90s when the rest of the nation were using E 9-1-1. The “broken” and “aging” system of 9-1-1 is often sensationalized by domestic media that doesn’t state it’s not the number nor the before 9-1-1. It’s the apps and services that are tied into it that can make a difference.

Cell Phones and it’s “Accuracy”

Early on in the New Hampshire days of the statewide 9-1-1; cell phones became popular or a “must have”. As previously stated, 85% of all calls now are from cell phones as so many in my state trashed their landlines, or gone to alternative voice providers  like VOIP.

The way the current 9-1-1 system function for non landline telephones, is two types of information. A “Phase 1”, the telephone number of the cellphone and the location of the tower. Now for most providers, GSM like service, requires a tower for every five miles depending  on the usage and stuff. CDMA (the Verizon service) uses traditional cell radio technologies where towers can bounce off each other for ten or a little more miles apart. This can play a factor in accuracy of Phase I.

Phase II (where 70% of the calls spit out) come from the number of the cell phone, and a latitude and longitude, using the phone’s GPS. However, if they get just latitude and longitude, that’s not going to always help you. If you live in a city, there can be tons of homes and businesses on the same coordinates, maybe not so in the rural areas.

The State recommends people to pay attention to their surroundings, to look at mile markers on highways, and state byways, landmarks, buildings and streets. I don’t know if this was always the practice.

Texting to 9-1-1 is now supported, however it’s much like a TTY session for the deaf/non verbal, and in the future MMS will be supported, again, like a telephone call, it may take longer for response due to all the typing.

Cell Phones:

Essentially, if you don’t have service, 9-1-1 won’t work. If you’re trapped in Mount Washington from an impending avalanche and you have no bars, don’t expect 9-1-1 service. Dead zones in your basement? Expect no service. 1 bar in your bedroom, attic level? Expect a call but do not be alarmed if your call gets dropped if you move a feet. 

How to call 9-1-1? Well you will have to teach your kids how to use one. Many kids do not know telephony now, as sad as it is. I guess that Mister Telephone from our childhood is also being thrown way like old rotary and office telephones.

Of twenty or so people who showed up, only five were under the age of 50, a teenager was there and a young lady who is training to be one. I think it’s safe to say we all know how to call.


Many 9-1-1 calls come from snowbirds who go to Florida and call 9-1-1 for emergency. Common sense, per to the Curator should dictate if you aren’t residing where your telephone service is in the moment you should go online and change your information where Vonage and Magic Jack recommend.


Some people were confused in the room when the Warner area switched over to a completely fiber optic broadband network. It was described as “VOIP” or a “softswitch” at the carrier end. I believe their service is similar to FairPoint’s FAST or Comcast’s Xfinity that uses DOCSIS modems. Certain areas in NH do not get served by FairPoint (formerly New England Bell/Verizon/NYNEX) – this was how the NH Telephone Museum was founded through former employees of the local independent carrier in the first place.

I describe the DOCSIS like services to be “VOIP” but in the carrier. While your modem does not have an IP address or what have you; it’s at the headend or central office where the VOIP stuff happens. Different than below, and should be considered to be the closest equivalent to landlines. For Xfinity, we are ordered to notify Comcast when a change of location occurs. The modem is hardwired (not literally figuratively via my service) to my house. It’s not to be moved around often.

Power failures can occur, and it’s the customers responsibility to have UPS if you want to talk to your friends during an outage. The battery that is embedded is designed for these 9-1-1 like calls for a few minutes.

While digital lines like ISDN and PRI/BRI do not work during outages without backup power; and given these DOCSIS devices have analog only ports, its easy to not know that it needs power to work during outages


While the State of New Hampshire, despite being an authoritative governing system; they have left PBX and KSU VOIP or non VOIP alone from being chained like a Kensignton Anti Theft Lock to New Hampshire RSAs using it as the boat anchor.  To speak bluntly, that’s the right way! If you are an ambulance chasing lawyer to destroy small businesses for frivolous regulations, then wah-wah for you! However in New Hampshire, calls to 9-1-1 had occurred in places where PBX systems (like the Definity/M1 class) were installed. A lot of calls came from the Dartmouth University region and the state’s VOIP network.

The state finally cutover from Centrex to Cisco UCM after a ten year infatuation, that bled to every major agency over the last decade. All 9-1-1 calls are routed in the same fashion in the civilian world, despite the PSAP using the same system that other agencies use. In short like the case of Dartmouth or the state, the typical 9 [to dial out] -1 [5 seconds later, did I do the “1”?] -1. oopps! I’m landing at the PSAP! Some have changed their trunk access code to 8, to prevent these misdials.

While it was being described as a VOIP-issue, it’s an issue no matter what is connected at the place of business. That’s why I added MLTS.

Of course some private sector vendors like Avaya have strongly encouraged via befriending the FCC to ban all hospitality industries to require universal 9-1-1 access without trunk access codes. Sorry, but that’s an overreach of government…

Medic Alert (aka I’m Fallen and I can’t Get up!)

While these little pager sized necklaces can call for help, the problem is you do not go to 9-1-1. You go to a call center by that type of provider, and it’s on their side when to send your call to a PSAP. The problem is they may not know where your local PSAP is… While I am on that note, the elderly are the least called parties to 9-1-1. Why? Because of their rigidities of not “stirring dust” would rather wait something out. This could even be a medical situation where 9-1-1 is needed but they’ll brush it off.

I hope this series taught you folks that the “magic ” of E-9-1-1 is closer to folklore than reality and to make sure you have access to emergency services. Remember, its in your power to ensure responders get to you in a timely manner!


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