911 System Shuts Down Again For Part of Connecticut State Police - NBC Connecticut

911 System Shuts Down Again For Part of Connecticut State Police

(Published Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016)

Wednesday was a tough morning for calltakers at one Connecticut 911 dispatch center.

Around 10 a.m., the new Next Generation 911 system shut down at Troop E in Montville after a power failure. The state said the calls were rerouted to Troop K in Colchester without incident.

This comes less than a week after the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters reported on how first responders have concerns about Connecticut’s new 911 system following shutdowns.

Halfway through its deployment, the Next Generation 911 system - designed to bring 911 text messages - has had some major hiccups. The last issue came on July 15 when almost all the dispatch centers in the state shut down, alarming people like Allison Kizis, who tried to call and report a motorcycle crash.

“I kept my phone on speaker phone the whole time. You know, screaming like 'Please pick up' and just wanted somebody to answer," she said.

All the dispatch centers are now using voice-over-Internet telephones and software.

AT&T, overseeing Next Generation 911 in Connecticut, tells the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters the shutdown was caused by a system computer memory issue, not call volume.

Even though the state adds no critical incidents took place because people had trouble getting through, Berlin dispatcher Tammy Wright told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters, "It's a scary feeling for all dispatchers because when you can see calls coming in and you can't answer them that there's nothing to do to help those people."

Legislators believe we need stronger measures in case Next Generation 911 goes down again.

Representative Steve Dargan and Senate Minority Leader Tony Hwang said having 911 roll over to a dispatch center’s routine numbers, which are landlines, is one idea.

"I think it’s something we should look at to have a backup system in place,” Dargan said.  

“If that means we have to move away from this, you know sophisticated technology, and use land-based legacy lines as a failsafe, let's do it," Hwang added.

 At least one dispatch center has already set up something like this and others are pushing for the state to provide similar solutions.

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