911 Emergency Line Blackouts Experienced Across The Country

(Daily360.com) Emergency 911 call services were temporarily experiencing an outage on April 17. The cause of the outage, at the time, was unknown.

It has since been revealed that Lumen, a company that handles the 911 services for local jurisdictions, is a third-party responsible for handling the emergency services. A statement from the company said that another company, unrelated to their services, was replacing a single light pole. That caused a fiber break that led to a multi-state outage for 911 services.

The outage affected the states of Nebraska, Nevada, Texas, South Dakota, Kentucky, Iowa, Florida and Wisconsin. The Las Vegas Police Department put a statement on social media that told citizens who need emergency services to call 911 from a mobile device. They said that the phone number will be received and that the emergency call center agent would immediately call back. The police statement indicated that landlines were not able to call 911.

The FCC is conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the outages. A former FCC Chief, David Simpson, said there are 6,000 different jurisdictions for 911 and they don’t operate as a unified system. Despite that fact, third party companies can be responsible for 911 services as local jurisdictions outsource the work. That is what has happened with local jurisdictions that contracted through Lumen were all experiencing an outage from the installation of one new telephone pole.

There have been warnings about potential cyber-attack risks from the Department of Homeland Security. Sensitive, personal information is disclosed on 911 calls that can be exploited by criminals for financial gain. These potential attacks are not just devastating for the infrastructure, but for the ability of police and first responders to do their jobs. There is no evidence that these outages are related to any kind of cyber attack.

There have been such cyber-attacks in the past. One notable cyber-attack occurred in 2017, which caused the emergency call line to lose service in more than 12 states.

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