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Investigation Begins Into 911 System Failure

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Residents across the region had access to emergency services cut off after 911 centers went dead in the wake of the derecho storm.
Luigi de Guzman: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ouij/50115629/
Residents across the region had access to emergency services cut off after 911 centers went dead in the wake of the derecho storm.

Regional officials from Verizon say the failure of a backup generator was just one of many events that caused more than 2 million Northern Virginia residents to lose 911 services during the June 29 derecho storm.

During a meeting of the Washington Council of Governments, Kyle Milady Senior V.P. of global engineering for Verizon tried to explain why the system in Northern Virginia and other parts of the region crashed — and stayed down — for nearly four days.

"Our 911 network is designed with multiple redundancies to be resilient in the the face of power failures," said Milady. "In this situation, the nature and severity of the storm, damaged multiple inside and outside Verizon facilities in the affected area. This cause critical network elements that handle traffic routing and call completion to fail."

D.C. city council chair, Phil Mendelsohn, serves as vice chair of the COG board. "I think the companies response was very general, and I get it that they don't want to admit culpability, but the fact of the matter is we can't afford that the telephone system goes down, and therefor is no 911 service."

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has asked the Council of Governments to form a task force to investigate the cause of the outage and what can be done to prevent similar disruption in the future

Sharon Bulova, Fairfax Board of Supervisors chair proposed the inquiry. "It's not OK that part of the region was completely without the ability to make a 911 call," says Bulova. "The council of governments have agreed to participate in a call for action for us to resolve the failure of the 911 network of Verizon."

The massive outage reportedly lasted until July 3.

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