9-1-1 Awareness, part two

So for the people never called 9-1-1 before, the procedure is:

  • You go to our single PSAP no matter what number in the 603 area code to ether a Concord or Laconia center. Both locations staffed at the max under 20 even during peak “drive time” hours to about eight total at night. (It was to my own surprise that the max of each call center can max to 22 operators at each location, which totals to 44. This has never happened.) Despite so many people of my generation never returning to the Granite State, there is a growth of population, and given the weekend population throughout the tourist locations, it’s a surprise that a state agency can handle that with so few “telecommunicators” as the state calls it.
  • They ether verify or ask for your location and number. Names aren’t relevant I suppose. The location is to ensure they are going to the right place, and secondly the number is to ensure a call is disconnected that they will ringback. Unlike private sector call centers, the 9-1-1 call is tied to that call taker until s/he drops the call. The way this works, if I am not mistaken you hang up, a few seconds later 9-1-1 will ring back, essentially calling you immediately. Essentially callbacks in emergency services are immediate wheras a customer service/support line may take a few minutes.
  • 9-1-1 calls shouldn’t under most circumstances be overwhelmed where you get a busy signal, but you do go into a queue if there is an overload of calls. Don’t hang up because if you do get next on the queue, they will automatically call you back!
  • They ask for your type of emergency. For the youngins out there; this 3-digit telephone number is for Fire, Medical and Police. If your call is medical, the E911 telecommunicators will go through an Emergency Medical Dispatch procedures. If you remember the days of Rescue 911* with those reenactments, they used to pull a flip chart. It’s now electronic. Despite the fact; there is specific set of questions to ask in the proper order; if the victim is breathing; having a heart attack or gagging on something; even childbirth or something worse. Some have considered this the “interrogation” of a 9-1-1 call.

* As I write this; I still can’t get over the irony that a few years after Rescue, Shatner lost his wife in a drowning situation but the 9-1-1 tapes clearly showed he didn’t do anything he learned on a show he hosted for almost a decade! About a decade ago, a Boston PM drive talk show host would play the tapes for a while for comic relief. C’mon, I had to be sassy at some point in this theme!

  • The local dispatch centers start to get wind of an emergency. It varies town by town, my town has a single dispatch for police and fire, my other town I grew up still has two separate dispatch facilities. There are monitors hardwired via a private Internet link back to the State that shares the same screen the telecommunicator is seeing. It’s at the town’s discretion whether to send help; ring the bells and whistles or just arrive at legal speed limits without bells and whistles.

This is my local dispatch center. This is NOT a PSAP, remember the Department of Safety is the ONLY PSAP in the state. This is a Police Department that also handles Fire and EMS calls.  The middle monitor that on a round turntable is that monitor that is hardwired via a VPN connection to the Department Of Safety’s 911 system. That monitor is identical to the state “telecommunicator”. This is typically used for medical emergencies, and the local dispatchers can triage emergency calls even before taking the call or even put a call out. However each town has their own way of dispatching and sending out calls. This was taken in 2014 at the Merrimack, NH Police Department.

  • The state “bridges” the call between the 9-1-1 and the local dispatch. This means you will hear voices throughout the entire call, and no tones.  In other states you may hear tones or ringing. For a layman end user, that’s not very promising. In the commonwealth of Massachusetts, if you call the statewide PSAP via your cell, they’ll most likely “trunk transfer” your call. What’s that? If you hear ringing, that’s what they are talking about. But will Fletch and the FCC do anything? Of course not! They hate business!
  • Now the emergency response should be responding at someway at this point

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Rant: Problems WITHIN the 911 “System”

A recent syndicated article from The Washington Post, reported a story in Houston, where a 9-1-1 operator, hung up on many calls, and some were life threatening. The 9-1-1 operator had the audacity to identify herself in one call as “Crenshanda”, who would later be identified as Crenshanda Williams, who was charged on two misdemeanor accounts of intercepting an emergency call.

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The question is (not to be a brat): will Avaya make a statement or lecture on their E9-1-1 blog by their VP of 911 solutions Mark aka “Fletch” Fletcher? Of course not! Avaya is basically Nortel with an old logo with red colors! Their nerdiness and lack of understanding logistics outside of integrated circuits and apps is so appalling this is why I completely dismiss anything from Avaya. They cross such an ethical boundary with advocating (err lobbying) to the FCC to mandate hotels from banning using a TAC to get to 911. I am not anti-government or claiming Fletch is a nanny state dude from Jersey or what. I feel if you want to ban a TAC to dial emergency, then abolish Part 68 all together and rent cell phones.

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Rants: E911 (again!)

I typically don’t support British talkers on American TV; but John Oliver is apparently good when it comes to technology and the government. Net Neutrality can be debatable; but think E911 is something that can be agreed upon.

Anyways here’s the video and my two cents after:

At 3:45, he quotes the National Emergency Number Association’s “estimated 70 to 80 percent of 9-1-1 calls comes from wireless devices.” I’d think it’s safe to say, that a vast majority of “landlines” are actually from VOIP services that should  be coming from your physical address. Seconds later, he claims that 9-1-1 came from billing addresses. That’s if you don’t have it sent to say a PO Box, and he was half true – because many Centrex lines came from billing addresses not the plant address. But Centrex isn’t his audience.

This is very true. If cloud services and apps exist; then why can’t these apps that can track you become appliances in 9-1-1 PSAPs and plug in via SIP? Believe it or not, this upgrade is basically just a change in the software. The hardware is illrelevent. You could still have digital or analog sets taking calls, it’s on what the computer screen is what counts.

Then there’s the announcements of saying “all operators are busy” this allegedly refers to short staffing; but I’d lay on the side of caution – if there was a spike of emergencies or crises featured in this montage, then I’d side with that over his “understaff” claims.

Those “butt calls” calls placed add also calls placed during performances of “love” is another reason why 9-1-1 fails. It’s too easy to call. Sure if you’re in an emergency in panic, it’s nice to hold 9 or whatever to get 9-1-1; but this is probably how some PSAPs are overloaded. Even in enterprise settings, people like Avaya Blue’s own Mark Fletcher have been in bed with the FCC to force hotels to prevent using a trunk access code to dial out for 9-1-1. Or what he has done at Avaya to force businesses out of their will to have the government tell how private companies should have 9-1-1 programed on phone systems. To me this is beyond inappropriate and is an overreach of government and taking the common sense that is often missing in IT to begin with. By supporting very technical rules that can change at any time and threatening your users of lawsuits if you don’t comply is also sobering. These types of actions are only enabling the faceless careless IT departments to be even more careless and anti users.

I digress.  For enterprises, they have had similar issues like how consumers have cut the cord to wirelines; because VOIP is “mobile” and IP is not location dependent. I can have a data drop be tied to a switch, but the switch doesn’t care that I am on the 4th floor in the 6th office; in legacy PBX systems, it was programmed via the PBX of specific locations that could pass through to the 911 as a “supplemental ANI” service.

Cisco has encouraged adds moves or changes by unplugging the set and place it to a new location to make it easier for non telecom professionals to avoid doing proper changes by remapping a users’ MAC address from one cube to another. MAC remapping is too much labor for the IT department that doesn’t respect telephony. And this actually can cause even more problems for users trying to dial emergency.

I think John Oliver is right, we have taken 911 for granted. Maybe we shouldn’t take it for granted for a change. Maybe people who actually oppose changes forced by the alikes of Mark Fletcher to actually stand by their private branch exchange and stop having the government dictate how private businesses use their private phone system. Maybe “Fletch” could be better off selling snap-in apps to give better location information to these same PSAPs as Oliver has suggested.  If the facts are true that Avaya Red and Blue have 50 percent of the PSAP install base; maybe they should be selling these appliances or applications, and services (i.e. through a cloud) instead.

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Topical: Why I left the Avaya List

About a year ago, I left the Avaya List. If you are not familiar, its a mailing list group hosted by Yahoo where one subscribes by entering their email and  they respond back and forth through a centralized email address.

I was there on and off for the last decade. I had a reputation issue because I was calling out Mark Fletcher, Avaya (err Nortel’s) E-911 Product Manager and also I never really was upfront with my affiliation to the industry or what have you. I was lurking for most of the 10 years on the list. People came and went, like any online venue, but some stayed for years.

The Avaya List in their defense is the true representation of the American user base for Avaya. Many are white collared types, with formal IT regulations and practices and social media was a no-no for their company communications or even the list-serve itself. Avaya’s marketing today completely disses these companies, sub contractors, users such as system admins or even the end user themselves by making social media apps that I’ve never seen in use, or even tablets or conferencing. I see Cisco all over the place now. I think Avaya is missing the boat in terms of not respecting this group of users which the list is been around for almost 2 decades (if you can believe that!)

For many years Avaya didn’t show too much presence for the right reasons. To likely prevent conflicts of interest. The development of the 9600 IP Telephones may be credited to a feedback by an Avaya official circa 2006 based on a thread seeking new ideas for new sets. The 1600s may have been inspired by some of the users not liking the single LEDs.

Anyways, Nortel would be bought out and the users did move over, but some of them were pretty nerdy or cocky or just had a very reactionary tone. I don’t want to denigrate people publicly, but Nortel isn’t the Apple of PBX systems, its a Microsoft of PBXs. Nortel was always and is full of TLA or Three Letter Acronyms, even before VOIP was the standard. Nortel’s Meridian 1 platform seems to be the most oddest terminal user interface or TUIs, and the telephones are just a pain! You may see on other sites the modern design or the sophisticated  user interface, but to use the damn sets required a PhD in PBX Administration to use a flippin Nortel!

So with that aside, one of the moderators was well versed in the small systems offerings, but his PBX knowledge was mostly on ROLMs and M1s. It was waste of bandwidth of hearing him say all the great things of ROLMs on an Avaya list serve. But I guess admins have double standards, it was getting tiresome, but I never complained.

(Honestly, I don’t have much of an opinion of ROLMs, because the documentation is hard to find on the Net, and ROLM’s popularity peaked in the mid 90s. It’s not to say they still have users, the users slid. Other than having a magnetic switchhook, and integrated voicemail and PBX interfaces, that’s all I know what made ROLM all the rave in the 80s.)

Some of the Nortel users would nit pick replies or question in a grumpy fashion, that’s  what I hated of the Nortel list (still a member through Google Groups), but I’ll admit I kinda caught the disease near my end of the list.

What drove me out was the constant TLA or the constant jargon, it was like the Nortel Way would creep into the Avaya. I’ve said this a number of times, Avaya was sold out to Nortel instead of Avaya buying Nortel. AT&T and Lucent never degraded the end user or the on site administrator, small or large systems, wether it was release notes, emails, documentation or other venues of that time. Avaya Red systems were always a user friendly, warm presence, Nortel users, admins and the company just looked down if you didn’t know how to change the time on an M1 PBX. They seem to be the IT jerks, that I’ve stride to not be (even when I slip sometimes.)

The theme of this online portal in the PBX dept is to showcase the “Avaya” that people would be familiar prior to 2004, which includes brands that may say “Lucent” or “AT&T” or even the Bell System (yup, referring to the Dimension.) Avaya’s marketing today is so out of touch with the true users, it’s really a tragedy. 100 years of innovation (or 200 if you count Nortel for combined years)  was being thrown in a dumpster like it was standard old trash.

People on the list serve didn’t really know who I was, even when my full name would appear on and off the list. I’d sometimes post via the Yahoo Page or send an email from my Outlook. For all they knew I was some angry vendor trying to take down people. Well that wasn’t the intention.

The last one that got me upset was Mark Fletcher, Fletch if you’re close to him or respect him. I never respected him. Why? Because he works for a private company who has advocated EXCESSIVE, and I mean excessive E911 legislation for businesses with Multi Line Telephone Systems or MLTS, in short any phone system that’s in house that has more than a few extensions. Personally, I wished governments don’t dictate what goes on the other side of the demarc point. There’s a reason why Part 68 exists. E911 basically destroys that game changer from the Carterphone days.

Some states the E911 laws are burdensome and some states don’t have any (like the 603 area code.) The two big states, New York and Massachusetts has line by line rules of what consitutes a multi line and what doesn’t. I would not be surprised to see these two states don’t comply with their own laws, since these two states use massive phones and switching from  – you guessed it – Avaya, as previously documented in 2012.

Also many Avaya/Nortel systems are in many small companies, mum and pop shops here in the US and probably Canada too. Avaya has gone very progressive by turning the company into this alleged high tech “innovation” themed business. If that is truly the case, the laws preached by Mark Fletcher et al would actually counteract as perspective new customers are going to the cloud or mobile PBX setups, which would hurt Avaya instead of helping them. In a “software as a service” or mobile environments, you just escaped jail from the E911 regs.

And why? A few people whose lives had died only because of a misprogrammed configuration, out of how many people in this country? Another conflict of interest by Avaya and Fletcher was a woman who got killed in Texas because a girl tried to call 911, being taught to dial couldn’t get help and the girl’s mother died. Kari’s Law is supposed get FCC approval and if it does get approved, all motels and hotels have to program all the guest telephone sets so when one who literally calls 911 it will go to 911 like how kids are taught in under the age of 5.

But yet no one wants to question the father’s history if there is any with the law, it’s all about the kid who couldn’t get 911 help. Sadly lawyers will win if there is in compliance (whether its Kari’s law or the regs in general) it could put people out of business. But trying to have an intellectual debate on a professional list serve only got me into some trouble.

I bolted after the founder of the list serve had refreshed the users to be nice to new members to the list (inferring to the Nortel types), avoid discussing controversial topics and don’t attack other people. I felt it was time to go.

RANT: “Dial for Emergency”

This blog focuses on historic images or other media featuring voice technology from yesteryear or the previous century.

But in some museums there are discussion groups and today its about E911 or “Emergency”.

911 gets often misused or misdialed on an often basis. The media doesn’t help the matters when in almost every fictional show, if something seems to be wrong “CALL 911”, news outlets that sensationalize the fraudulent 911 calls or hell any 911 call.

There are some telecom equipment companies you know like the ones that make large scale PBX systems that have “product managers” that push for 911 legislation. (I’ll leave people and companies nameless but if you are familiar with them – you know what I am talking about.)

Yes they push for legislation.

Many PBX managers are ones who are mostly conservative and not for excessive legislation like a former company from North Of The Border.  I do fear that E911 laws get very onerous. One set of laws dictate “MLTS” or Multi Line Telephone Systems. Some states get very technical and of course just with any law in the last few years if you are less than 50 ports (or people) you get screwed the most. Its very ironic that the same companies that make KTS or KSUs do not have adequate E911 support. Least these morons to understand sites like eBay that still sells older KSU systems including old generations of Norstars, CLASSIC Merlins (like I have blogged before) and its cousins too! If they run via TDM and ISDN sure its an inch close to E911 standards but it still very, very complicated. Some can’t even afford “consultants” to help them.

Its also ironic that these same companies that are preaching “Innovation” like a Silicon Valley based company is actually by oxymoron taking away that same idea due to onerous government regulation just for E911.

Oh and what would really be depressing is if government dictates business to require to dial 911 plainly, and then see an possible uptick in misdialed attempts to 911 and then have your taxes go up because of the costs of police officers (BY law) to report to your business that is why TAC is your safeguard.

But what do I know? I don’t have the PhD of Knowing Everything About Telecom to the point where I condescend my fellow users on email lists and when I, the author of this blog try to counter-argue, I get treated that I am the jerk.

Exploiting children for E911 reform is even more sickening, again I suggest you find the blog of this unnamed company of reference that meets the above profile.