911 Report Card

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911 Report Card

With all the talk of 911 lately I thought it important to share this information on a report about 911 originally from 2001. AN interesting detail is that 231 counties did not have 911 coverage at the time of this report. Please see this link for details.

The Effectiveness, Accessibility and Future of America's 9-1-1 Service


A Special Report by DISPATCH Monthly Magazine

We've received a copy of National Emergency Number Association's (NENA) long-awaited, 24-page "Report Card To The Nation," and have combed it for interesting details. It seems primarily intended as an introduction to 911 for legislators, to offer basic analysis of the current systems, and as a method for promoting Congressional action on several issues. The report was comissioned in early 2000 and was originally scheduled for release on last year's National 911 Day. NENA will be presenting the report to Congress, and says they'll release the full, longer report later this year. updated 2/11/03
Download an Acrobat (pdf) copy of the
Congressional summary (2.5 Mb), and check this additional material posted by NENA, including the newly-released "9-1-1 System Survey and Resource Guide."

On Nov. 30, 2001 NENA announced the upcoing publication of a Status Report and Resource Guide with additional material for the RCN. It is available by mail order only right now for $275. [Web site not updated]

The report gave an overall grade of "B" to the nation's 911 system, and also assigns grades for:


Quality of ServiceA
Public Education & AwarenessB

The report is a "Congressional Summary," and includes many statements urging Congress to take action, including:

legislation encouraging or requiring states to implement 911 in under-served areas
help make resources available to states to complete 911 implementation
encourage legislation that provides economic incentives to private companies to "evolve the 9-1-1 infrastructure" require the FCC, DOT and other agencies to include 911 in their activities
"Support Public Safety in its effort to continually improve the level of 9-1-1 service, both wireline and wireless"

Among the RCN's facts and figures:
190 million calls to 911 each year
26.5% of those calls are made from wireless phones
231 counties without 911 coverage
5,000 PSAPs
97,000 personnel employed by 911 systems or agencies

The polling company Harris Interactive surveyed 2,003 adults in July 2000 and found what appears to be very high satisfaction levels for the nation's 911 system and dispatcher performance.
50% rated the 911 system as "good" and 24% rated it "average"
42% said they were "very confident" on receiving the appropriate assistance by dialing 911
Of those who had actually called 911 for help, 67% were "very satisfied" with the answer time, 65% "very satisfied" with the calltaker's assistance, and 50% were "very satisfied" with the field unit response time.
95% of those surveyed said they were "very familiar" with the 911 system

Perhaps the most interesting question asked by Harris Interactive, and the one with the most implications for Phase II, was:
"Do you believe the 9-1-1 operator can automatically identify your address/location when you call 9-1-1 on...?"
94% said "Yes" for home telephones
55% said "Yes" for pay phones
15% said "Yes" for wireless phones <-----
Apparently a very large portion of the public (85%) <does> understand that the 911 system <cannot> locate their wireless phone--and this was back in July 2000, before the popular press began publishing stories explaining Phase II and wireless E911. No doubt, now even <more> than 85% of Americans realize they can't be located when dialing 911.

The report says only that "many" wireless E911 callers don't know their specific location--the report does not estimate or give a firm figure for how often callers cannot describe their location to the E911 calltaker.

The report was particularly critical of 911's future, saying the analog technology typically used in most 911 systems is slow and can't handle the amount of data required by advanced services (Phase II, ACN, number portability, VoIP, etc.). The report also noted that 911 databases should be improved to allow storage of more than text, and allow real-time management and updates.
"The ability of 9-1-1 to continue to perform under it current level is severely threatened by a number of technological advances," the report stated, including wireless phones, the growing telecommunications industry and non-traditional technologies.

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