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AAC F A M I L Y & F R I E N D S


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Orange County. Public information officers in Northern Virginia’s Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William counties, and in Maryland in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County, as well as D.C. officials, took to Twitter to get word out to area residents. Residents’ options included calling 911 using another cell carrier, using a landline or dialing a local phone number.


Orange County said that AT&T finally contacted them hours after the outage started — in an email with no contact information. AT&T tweeted out a message at 9:49 p.m. ET hours after the outage had started: “Aware of issue affecting some calls to 911 for wireless customers. Working to resolve ASAP. We apologize to those affected.”


After the FCC began its investigation, AT&T and Comtech suggested that the FCC “and other interested 911 entities and/or trade associations join in pursuing a solution to the notification database management prob- lem.” Te companies say it’s problematic for them to try to contact hundreds or thousands of public safety officials.


Jacobs, in her letter to the FCC, wrote that wireless carri- ers should be held legally responsible for immediately noti- fying their customers and impacted public safety agencies. She points out that if wireless carriers can send out messages


letting customers know they’re about to reach their data limit, they can notify them when 911 service is out. “Tey have the tools at their disposal,” she noted.


In comments filed with the FCC as a result of the out- age and investigation, AT&T said:


“A best-practices approach could yield more effective notice procedures, while maintaining the flexibility that carriers and PSAPs need to address the varying circum- stances that could develop in the wake of an outage.


“To further facilitate timely communications to con- sumers in the event of an outage, the Commission should also consider creating and maintaining a database of PSAP contacts for use by providers. A centralized, coordinated effort could provide for accurate and consistent points of contact across industry, and facilitate timely notification to consumers in the event of a 911-impacting outage.


Mary Ann Barton is a senior staff writer for County News and is returning to NACo after previously working at the association. She comes to NACo after covering local news for Patch.com in Northern Virginia.


Tis article originally was published April 28, 2017.


COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2017


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