In 2014, after what we described as “frequent failures,” a previous administration’s FCC attempted to change how the United States’ emergency 911 system works, including making it clear who’s responsible when multiple states inexplicably lose the ability to dial 911 at once.
Some of that accountability might have come in handy this week — because we still don’t know what caused yesterday’s 911 outage. And it’s not clear anything would change even if we knew.
Yesterday, 911 services reportedly disappeared in at least 14 states nationwide, some for as long as an hour and a half. Police departments and public safety agencies across the country had to hand out alternative numbers to call — and in some cases, warn residents not to dial 911 just to test if the systems had started working again.
911 services are down in the City of Tucson. If you need to make an emergency call, dial 520-372-8011. We will let you know when 911 is back online.
But strangely, the outage didn’t seem to get all that much attention, and most of the usual suspects didn’t want to talk about it.
We reached out to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon to confirm that the outage was even happening, and if so, if they could steer us to the root cause. None of the three major cellular carriers would even answer the question.
The FCC didn’t reply to a request for comment, period.
We also reached out to Microsoft, thinking perhaps the 911 outage might have something to do with the Azure outage earlier in the day. “We’ve seen no indication that the multi-state 911 outage was a result of yesterday’s Azure service interruption,” the company told us.