> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Well Lisa, what do you do in a case
> like Brooklyn, New York where by the dispatcher's own admission,
> "we do not answer this phone after 10 PM"?
I don't understand the context of your statement. You mean they say
in NYC they don't answer 911 calls after 10PM? I don't know the story,
but I suspect perhaps the call was routed to a business office instead
of an emergency line where such calls wouldn't be answered after hours.
> ... If a small town can arrange its police department to serve the
> public efficiently, without a lot of sass-back to the public they
> are expected to serve, then why can't your so-called county of
That is a good question. But we are speaking of two separate
issues: (1) what exists now and how we consumers are best to deal
with it and (2) what we'd like to exist.
As to (1) -- what exists now: public safety dispatching has become
more centralized, covering a wider area and multiple jurisdictions.
This is in part due to making 911 service available in suburban areas.
The modern 911 services lock onto your line, provide your number, and
access a database showing your address and other information. The
problem is that VOIP, being a "floating" kind of service, doesn't
necessarily input into these databases (does it charge for this as
regular phones do -- we pay a "911 surcharge" of $1/month?)
You seem to be upset than the existing 911 infrastructure doesn't
support newcomer VOIP. As the newcomer, shouldn't VOIP have the
obligation to make itself support the existing infrastructure and pay
for the costs thereof?
For 2 -- in an ideal world each local town would have on duty a 24/7
dispatcher even though overnight they'd handle very few calls. But
even this has limitations because the central dispatch knows where all
police/fire/rescue units are and their availability and in case of a
big problem, neighboring units are immediately dispatched. There's no
need to relay phone calls from one jurisdiction to another. We had an
unexpected bad flood and the response was quick and efficient.
There are always tradeoffs between local specialized service and
reginal mass-market service. Each has pros and cons.
> Maybe you, or one of the other Bell System apologists in our
> readership can tell me why it is that VOIP carriers are expected to
> be the ones to have to do the twisting and turning and maneuvering
> to get their ways in line to make it easier for the public servants?
Because in the last two decades considerable infrastructure has been
invested in an E911 structure based on wireline service. Suddenly
this new technology comes along and they want everyone to conform to
it. Why can't the new technology confirm to the existing? It's not
like E911 has been a secret. The govt and telephone subscribers have
foot the bill for these enhancements. Why should some newcomer get a
The cable TV industry grew up by laying its own cable at its own
expense and building its own receiver buildings. Then they upgraded
on their own replacing with coaxial with fibre-optic and now they're
free to do as they wish. But if they wish to mix in with existing
networks, they have to conform to existing networks. Part of that
conformity requirement is E911 service.
In other words, suppose we invent a cheap and easy to fly helicopter.
Now we're upset that supermarkets and housing developments don't have
landing platforms on their roofs to accomodate us.
> What the hell did any of those people do back in the 1960's when our
> nation was crossbar with no immediate ID on calls?
In big cities you dialed zero and the operator gave you the police
dept. In rural areas it was rather cumbersome and took extra time.
Don't forget, not too long ago suburbanites had to know the specific
numbers for fire/police/rescue for their town. In rural areas, these
changed years since you called the home of the police or fire chief
(and the phone books of rural areas said this). Phone CO service
boundaries and town boundaries do not always mesh in suburban areas.
> You want a job as a police dispatcher? Then you, by-God, either get
> an encyclopedic knowledge of streets and intersections and addresses
> in your town or don't get in the way of the people who do; if your
> worker's "union" insists you have to have a job you are probably not
> qualified for anyway, is that the public or VOIP carriers at fault?
Having that "encyclopedic knowledge" of a wide suburban region is not
so easy. Unlike a city with its grid streets, a suburban county has
much more land area and crazy patchwork developments with overlapping
names and towns and jurisdictions.
The police officials years back decided that computerized reference
would be superior. If someone wasn't able to talk or a call got cut
off, they could still send help which they couldn't before. They
supposedly can send help faster. They supposedly have up-to-date
information about new construction or changed situations.
Again, like it or not, this is the present system, and it's up to the
VOIP carriers to make it work for them, not for the existing system to
assume costs to make it work for VOIP.