Who You Gonna Call When a Glitch Takes Out 911?

touchscreen smartphone with emergency call on the screenResilience professionals know the value of good communication with emergency responders – but what happens when 911 itself shuts down?

That was the case for Rhode Island late last month, when a computer software issue disrupted its E-911 dispatch system. During the malfunction, callers were able to reach dispatchers to pass along information – the problem was, the callers couldn’t hear the dispatchers talking back to them.

Because the calls were coming through, the computer system didn’t recognize there was a malfunction to trigger the backup system. After about 45 minutes (and 125 calls), the backup system was turned on manually and the system came back online.

Fortunately, there were no life-or-death situations reported during the shutdown. The state police is investigating, but is confident that it was merely a software glitch, and not the result of a hack.

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