NENA Outlines Lessons Learned from Derecho Power Outages in Congressional Testimony
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Posted by: Chris Nussman
outages of 9-1-1 emergency services after the recent "derecho” storm in the
National Capital Region revealed serious vulnerabilities in those systems. But an active, dedicated response from
telecommunications carriers and local government agencies can help prevent such
outages and improve emergency services in the future.
was the message delivered to Congress today on behalf of America’s 9-1-1 call
centers by Trey Forgety, Director of Governmental Affairs for the National
Emergency Number Association (NENA), in testimony before the House Committee on
Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Preparedness, Response, and Communications.
unusually intense thunderstorm on June 29 inflicted damage from Chicago to the
DC metro area. Millions of people were left without 9-1-1 service for several
days due to power outages and generator failures at various service facilities,
compounded by a lack of data about what was happening.
emergency service is perhaps the core
function of the government, and 9-1-1 is the critical link between the public
and emergency responders,” Forgety testified.
"When the safety of the public is at stake, we must put aside the
temptation to assign blame, and focus instead on learning how we can prevent
highlighted three lessons learned from the disaster:
commercial power outages are sure to happen again, and both telecom carriers
and public safety agencies who share responsibility for 9‑1‑1 must ensure they
have reliable, frequently-tested sources of backup power and ways to prioritize
the routing of 9-1-1 calls. "As things
stand today, the resilience of 9‑1‑1 centers is largely
a matter of jurisdictional accident,” with resiliency standards varying widely
from community to community.
transition to an IP-based, Next Generation 9-1-1 system will help improve
reliability and resilience, but the current pace of this transition also varies
widely across the nation.
kinds of "Big Data” analysis and visualization capabilities that are becoming common
in the private sector would help detect and respond to future 9-1-1 outages. Given the clear benefits that such analytics
could provide in terms of public safety, NENA believes that "achieving a nationwide
deployment of such capabilities should be a key homeland security goal for the
next five years.”
Click here to read the NENA testimony.