Earthquake shakes mobile service and the increased need for NG911

Deltek Senior Analyst Kyle Ridley reports.

As we near the tenth anniversary of 9/11, it seems wireless communication during times of crisis is still an uphill battle. Tuesday’s 5.8-magnitude earthquake centered in Mineral, Va. left many East Coasters hanging on the line, waiting for a dial tone. Now, with Hurricane Irene fast approaching, will mobile phone service once again be disrupted?

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has launched an investigation into the lost phone service that left many unable to reach family, friends, and 9-1-1 centers for nearly an hour. “We are very concerned by incidents where emergency wireless calls to 9-1-1 after yesterday’s earthquake were hampered by network congestion,” FCC Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau Chief Jamie Barnett said in a statement Wednesday.

Barnett also stressed the continued need to move toward next generation 9-1-1 (NG911) services, which allow 9-1-1 centers to receive text, picture and video messages from those reporting an emergency. Here at Deltek’s Herndon, Va. headquarters, the state and local research team – in unison – jumped up from our seats as the building shook for what seemed to be an inordinate amount of time. After a few minutes of wide-eyed confusion, shaky-voiced fear, and humorous banter mixed throughout the group, many of us grabbed our cell phones or hit the Internet for news. As for myself, I immediately updated my social media profile with a simple “um … was that an earthquake?” which was followed by a bevy of friends posting similar updates.

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