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Posted on February 12, 2018 by West Corporation 


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The History of 911: A Timeline

Throughout 2018, West is celebrating 50 years of 911. This timeline provides a look back at the history of 911 and emergency communications. It tracks the key legislative events and technological advancements that have helped shape 911 into the system we know today.

1957

  • The National Association of Fire Chiefs introduces the concept of a single emergency number to report fires.

1967

  • A report to President Lyndon Johnson recommends the establishment of a single national emergency number.

1968

  • AT&T designates 911 as the national emergency telephone number.
  • On February 16, the first 911 call is placed from Haleyville, Alabama.

1972

  • Canada adopts 911 as the national emergency number.1
  • The FCC recommends that 911 be implemented nationwide.

1973

  • The U.S issues a national policy statement to encourage the use of 911.

1976

  • 17% of U.S. population is covered by 911.2

1983

  • The first commercially-available cell phone is produced, setting the stage for dramatic changes in how the public communicates with 911.4

1996

  • The FCC adopts rules for Phase I wireless location.3

Phase II wireless location mandates require carriers to provide a 911 caller’s phone number plus the location of the cell tower transmitting the call to public safety.

1979

  • 25% of the U.S. population is covered by 911.2

1987

  • 50% of the U.S. population is covered by 911.2

1999

  • The FCC adopts rules for Phase II wireless location.

Phase II location requires that carriers provide the latitude/longitude (X/Y) of 911 callers to public safety.5 An X/Y is still not an optimal location for public safety, as it does provide a physical—or civic—address for the first responders.

  • President Clinton signs the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act into law.

The Act outlines increased support for states to perform system upgrades and promotes further build out of wireless 911 service and “seamless, ubiquitous, and reliable networks”.

2001

  • 97% of the U.S. population is covered by 911.6

2005

  • FCC adopts E911 mandates for voice-over-IP (VoIP) service providers.

The legislation requires VoIP service providers (VSPs) to deliver a 911 caller’s phone number and registered location to public safety.

2009

  • First successful text-to-911 message is sent in Black Hawk County, Iowa.

2012

  • Washington state implements the first statewide ESInet.

ESInets are interconnected IP-based 911 networks capable of enabling text, video and photo communications (in addition to voice), as well as providing backup support during periods of high call volume.

2015

  • FCC adopts rules to improve location accuracy using a “dispatchable address” or X/Y within 50 meters for wireless 911 calls.

The FCC’s Fourth Report & Order introduces the concept of a “dispatchable address”, which is the address that first responders will knock on in case of emergency.

2016

  • AT&T announces a nationwide ESInet.

2017

  • Kari’s Law passes both House and Senate.

House and Senate have each passed their own version of the bill, which eliminates the need to dial a prefix i.e., “9” before calling 911 from multi-line telephone system. It also requires that a central contact at the facility be notified of a 911 call (if the system can be configured to do so without improvement to hardware or software).

2018

  • All 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and 5 territories opt into FirstNet.7

FirstNet is a dedicated nationwide broadband network that will help first responders and public safety agencies communicate and share information during emergencies, large events or when commercial 911 networks become congested.

1 https://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/publications/reports/rp130705.htm#iiia
2 https://www.nena.org/?page=911overviewfacts
3 https://transition.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Wireless/Orders/1996/fcc96264.txt
4 https://www.motorolasolutions.com/en_us/about/company-overview/history/explore-motorola-heritage/cell-phone-development.html
5 https://transition.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Wireless/Orders/1999/fcc99245.pdf
6 https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.nena.org/resource/collection/7F122EC0-BC5A-46DD-9A65-B39A035E87D5/NENA_Report_to_the_Nation_1.pdf
7 https://www.firstnet.gov/news/first-responder-network-goes-nationwide



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