Emergency 911 Services Suffer Nationwide Outage, Officials Rush to Restore Phone Lines

by Chris Haney
emergency-911-services-suffer-nationwide-outage-officials-rush-to-restore-phone-lines

On Monday night, law enforcement agencies across at least 14 states suffered outages of their 911 systems, and the cause of the widespread disruption is currently unknown.

Police departments in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Minnesota all posted on Twitter about the issue. Each state’s 911 phone systems and SMS text services shut down a little after 6:30pm. Additionally, numerous reports showed that similar outages occurred throughout Delaware, California, North Carolina, North Dakota, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Ohio.

The widespread outage impacted each of the emergency services all at once. Within 30 to 60 minutes of the outages, 911 services were restored to the majority of affected areas.  

The Federal Communications Commission – the agency responsible for regulating communications services – promptly scrutinized the outages.  FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called for an immediate investigation into the matter. 

The 911 outage could have been caused by a Microsoft 365 services crash that also occurred on Monday night. The Microsoft blackout restricted user’s access to Office.com, Outlook.com, Power Platform, Dynamics365, and Microsoft Teams including Teams Live Event.

Microsoft headquarters is located in Redmond, Washington, where some of the first signs of the outage took place earlier Monday evening. The city Twitter account posted that phone lines and email accounts shut down due to the Microsoft outage.

Later, Microsoft acknowledged the widespread systems outage issue on a status page for its cloud services.

“Any user may experience access problems for Microsoft 365 services,” the statement read. “We’re working to identify the full impact and will provide more information shortly.” 

Investigations Continue As Officials Track Down 911 Issues

Some are suggesting a faulty provider of Public Safety Answering Points could be to blame for the 911 outages. PSAPs are call centers where emergency calls initiated by any mobile or landline subscriber are terminated. However, the source of the blackout remains unclear.

The Minneapolis Police Department in Minnesota, the Tucson Police Department in Arizona, and the Delaware State Police were the first of many agencies to report outages.

Likewise, the Grass Valley Police Department, located 60 miles Northeast of Sacramento, CA, reported outages affecting “some landlines and cell phones.”

“Please avoid testing your phone’s functionality by calling 911, as our dispatchers are working very hard to try and work through this stressful situation,” read a Facebook post from the agency.

A statement from Delaware State Police on their website informed residents of technical issues with their 911 call services.

“Delaware State Police Dispatch Centers are currently experiencing a state wide interruption in service,” the statement said. “Anyone attempting to call 911 either by cellphone or landline will experience a busy signal.” 

About 30 minutes later, the dispatch centers were fully operational and able to take 911 calls again, according to DSP.

[H/T Daily Mail]

  

Outsider.com