Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A 9-1-1 Outage Part 1: Here's What Happend, and What We Know

During the early hours of April 10th 2014, 9-1-1 Centers throughout Washington State, including CRESA, experienced a significant 9-1-1 outage.  Here at CRESA, we quickly took steps to ensure public safety as a top priority.  We investigated and reported the outage to our 9-1-1 phone provider and kept in contact with that provider, the State Emergency Management Division and other 9-1-1 centers throughout the outage.  We also provided a ten digit number for the public to use until the system was restored.  We shared that information as quickly as possible using the most effective methods we felt viable based on the time of day. We notified Fire Departments, Law Enforcement agencies, City and County Officials about the outage with the information we had. We also contacted area hospitals, and even large private sector organizations (such as care facilities) that utilize 9-1-1 frequently and advised them of the outage and shared with them the ten digit number to call for assistance.

So What Happened?

Coordination between  9-1-1 dispatch centers and with the 9-1-1 service provider, Century Link, quickly determined that the the outage was statewide with the exception of two counties, (Skamania and Garfield Counties). During the outage, some 9-1-1 calls continued to be received by the 9-1-1 centers, however approximately 80 % of 9-1-1 calls failed.  9-1-1 service was fully restored to all 9-1-1 centers statewide by 8:00 AM on Thursday, April 10, 2014.

What We Know:

The following statement was released by CenturyLink, the State's 9-1-1 phone provider within hours of the outage being resolved.
"CenturyLink and Intrado, our vendor partner, are working together and are confident that the 9-1-1 system is fully operational, stable and working as designed.
Intrado provides 9-1-1 services to CenturyLink through its fully redundant 9-1-1 system. The service disruption was due to an isolated issue in Intrado’s system that impaired call routing, which prevented the system from properly processing calls and launching their system’s redundancy.  Intrado has done three things to ensure the same 9-1-1 outage will not occur:
  1.  Resolved a software issue that prevented the proper processing of the 9-1-1 calls
  2.  Added additional alarms and raised the visibility of the alarms within the operations control center and
  3. Enhanced processes to ensure similar software issues do not occur

CenturyLink and Intrado place customer safety and reliable communications as top priorities and will continue to work together to ensure effective 9-1-1 communications."

CRESA Director, Anna Pendergrass, states "The State of Washington is continuing to trouble shoot, identify and implement practices to insure this does not happen again.  They are the ones that will need to answer any further questions about what the issues turn out to be and what steps they are going to put into place to assure all the PSAPs (911 Centers) and the citizens in the State that our 9-1-1 system  is reliable."

Washington State 9-1-1 Contact:   Wendy Freitag.
                                                 Phone: 800-688-8955

Here at CRESA we are determined to provide reliable 9-1-1 call taking services for residents, those visiting, and anyone traveling through Clark County.  In the coming weeks we will share lessons learned from the outage as well as what steps you can take to be prepared if something like this were ever to happen again.

Information sources:  Washington State Chapter APCO - NENA Outage Statement 
                                    Century Link Statement on Outage

1 comment:

Ron Goodman said...

A "fully redundant 9-1-1 system" that doesn't function when one part goes out hardly seems fully redundant. It's like only being a little bit pregnant. If it keeps functioning when one part goes down, then its "fully redundant." That didn't happen here.