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911 Call Complaint

A Colorado woman who was unhappy with how her 911 was handled by a Colorado Springs dispatcher then did the next best thing–she dialed KKTV, and her story appeared on the 6 p.m. news. The woman dialed 911 to report someone at her door late at night, but her cellular call went to Colorado Springs instead of the El Paso County sheriff’s comm center. The dispatcher failed to transfer the call, but instead gave her the 7-digit number of the sheriff. A Colorado Springs spokes person declined to say if the dispatcher had been disciplined or discuss the call specifically. Read more about the call here.

Sheriff’s Center Profiled

The “Black Voice News” Web site visited the Riverside County (S. Calif.) Sheriff’s Department comm center and outlined its operations in a story. The agency is paying a $16,000 retention bonus, the story notes, paid out over time, but starting with $800 in the first 6 months. “Confident men and women, dressed in Sheriff’s Uniforms, waiting eagerly to serve their community and assist them with their 911 calls,” the story says. Margie Gemende, Communications Supervisor for the Dispatch Training Unit, told the reporter, “The Dispatcher job itself is very difficult and stressful, but very rewarding.” Read the entire story here.

Personal Plea for Cyren Call

In the wake of the FCC’s dismissal of his Cyren Call frequency allocation proposal, Morgan O’Brien is apparently taking his proposal to the streets through an e-mail appeal for public safety officials to file comments with the FCC. “Dear Friend” began an e-mail received by several persons who have posted the message on-line. “Now is the time for everyone within public safety and industry to formally tell the FCC and Congress what they’ve been saying publicly for months: a new solution is needed for public safety’s communications challenges!” the e-mail said. The message was signed by O’Brien, who thanked the recipient if he/she had already filed comments, and then asked the person to forward it on to others who might offer comments. The FCC ruled late last week that O’Brien’s proposal to allocated 30 MHz of spectrum for a nationwide radio network could only be approved by Congress.

Motorola Wins State Bid

The state of Mississippi has awarded a $221 million contract to Motorola to build and maintain a state-wide public safety radio system over 15 years. State officials said they selected the company over a $311 million bid by competitor M/A-COMM. The system will handle 64,000 users with 97% coverage, and like many other state-wide systems, it will be available for local agencies. The state will now begin the negotiation process to complete the contract with Motorola.

Comm Center Profiled

The Brown County (Minn.) Sheriff’s Department comm center is profiled in a long article by the “Herald Dispatch” newspaper, including a photo of 16-year dispatcher Carl Rolloff, one of five full-time dispatchers there. Read the long story here.

Ohio Phase II Report

The office of Ohio’s 911 Coordinator has released its annual report to the General Assembly, noting that only 8 of the state’s 88 counties have Phase II E911 service right now. The report notes that 50% of 911 calls are made from cellular phones in some counties. According to NENA figures, Ohio has the worst Phase II implementation rate in the country except for Oklahoma. State officials say funding is the major issue, despite having collected $25.6 million from a new 32-cent surcharge. “We are behind the ball, but I think within the next year or year and a half we’re going to catch up,” state 911 coordinator Shawn Smith told a reporter. Download (pdf) the state report here.

FCC Nixes Cyren Call Plan

The FCC has dismissed a petition by Cyren Call to allocate 30 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band for a shared commercial and public safety network, saying the group’s request is “inconsistent” with the FCC’s rules. Congress ordered that the frequencies in the 747-762 and 777-792 MHz band be put up for public auction, which could raise several billion dollars for the U.S. Treasury. Cyren Call’s ground-breaking proposal would have cancelled the auction and allocated the spectrum for a commercially-operated national network, shared between ordinary customers and public safety agencies. However, in its ruling, the FCC said that only Congress could approve such a plan and the FCC had no authority to act. Cyren Call chair Morgan O’Brien has been lobbying Congress for several months on the proposal, and has said he will not give up on the plan. Read the FCC’s response here.

Man Kills, Jumps to Death

An unnamed Toronto (Ont.) dispatcher juggled a critical call from a man who said he had killed his wife and one of his daughters, and was going to kill himself. The man gave the calltaker two addresses, where police were immediately dispatched. The calltaker kept the man on the phone as he walked to the apartment of his wife’s parents, where he jumped from the balconey while still on the phone with the dispatcher, and was killed. Police found two of the man’s younger children unharmed at one of the locations. Read more about the incident here.

New 3-D Maps On-Line

If you have Web browsing available at your dispatch console, there’s big news–Microsoft has debuted full 3-D mapping for 15 selected cities, with more coverage promised in the near future. The new satellite images render buildings in their full height, perspective and appearance, allowing viewers a much more detailed view of the city. The images would be a great addition to a dispatcher’s arsenal of information during incidents. The maps work with Internet Explorer 6/7 on Windows, and you can try them out here.

Broadband Conference Planned

A group of wireless industry companies will co-host a Broadband Wireless Conference for Public Safety and Public Access in Riverside (S. Calif.) on Nov. 8th. The companies Radio IP Software, InfiNet Wireless, Lockheed Martin Information Technology, Public Safety Broadband and Wi-Fi Citywide will feature live demonstrations of an integrated 4.9 GHz public safety and 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi public access network that can handle graphics, video and other high-bandwidth applications. Find more information and a downloadable brochure here.

Tornado Generates 911 Calls

Vanderburgh County (Ind.) officials have released transcripts of 911 calls reporting damage and injuries after a tornado struck the region in October. Dispatcher Kelly Nurrenbern told a reporter that a call from a small girl still haunts her, with the girl reporting that her mother had been “squished” by debris. Adjacent Warrick County’s 911 system was knocked out, so Vanderburgh dispatchers began handling those calls, too. Read a story and watch video here.

U.S. Senator Turned Out?

Voters in Montana may have turned out three-term Sen. Conrad Burns (R), electing state senator Jon Tester by a 49% to 48% margin, or just 1,743 votes. As a member of the Senate’s Communications Subcommittee, Burns has been a key supporter of major public safety legislation over his 18 years of Senate service, including E911 funding, VoIP/E911 implementation and radio interoperability funding. Burns was also a founding member of the E9-1-1 Caucus, a working Congressional consensus-building forum to strengthen public safety communications infrastructures across the country. Other chairs include Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who was re-elected on Tuesday, and Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and John Shimkus (R-IL). The results of the Montana and Virginia Senate races were still too close to call as of Wednesday morning. Democrats gained four seats in the Senate, and the results of the Montana and Virginia Senate races will determine which political party has a majority in the Senate.

Voters Turn Out House Rep

U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Penn.), an active and influential supporter of public safety, has been defeated in his bid for re-election after a 20-year Congressional career. Weldon was one of Representatives swept out of office, changing the political balance of power among Republicans and Democrats. Weldon sponsored several pieces of key legislation that focused on public safety communications, including the allocation of 24 MHz in the 700 MHz band. Weldon is a former volunteer firefighter and is the senior member of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation. He is vice chair of both the House Homeland Security committee and the Armed Services committee. Weldon was defeated by former Navy admiral Joe Sestak, who also served as director for defense policy in the Clinton administration. At 7 a.m. (EST) Wednesday the vote margin was 56% to 44%.

PR Firm Helps on 911

Shelby County (Tenn.) officials have taken their problem of 911 abuse seriously–they hired a public relations firm to survey citizens and come up with a way to educate them about the proper use of 911. The survey found that residents realized what serious situations qualified for 911, but had a “gray area” about less-serious incidents. About 40% of those surveyed said they’d dial 911 for drug selling or shoplifting, and 23% said they’d dial 911 for to report a no-injury car accident. Perhaps worst, 76% of citizens said they use 911 because they can’t think of alternative telephone numbers. The county has set up 511 for traffic and 211 for library services to take some load off of 911, and are considering other changes to help.

NENA on AT&T/BellSouth Merger

NENA has filed comments with the FCC on the proposed merger between AT&T and BellSouth Corp., focusing on public safety issues such as no B911 in 83 counties covered by the two companies, and no E911 in another 76 counties, Phase II accuracy, restoration priority service fees, and improvements to the VoIP implementation process. Download (pdf) the comments here.