On today’s show we are talking about the use of the 911 database.

When a new property is developed, a municipal address is registered with the city or the county. Usually, that address is generated when the building permit is issued. Somehow, through a magical process this information trickles through layers of government bureaucracy and eventually makes its way into the 911 database.

The 911 database serves a critical function for public safety. It is used by emergency first responders to locate people in distress when they dial 911 from any terrestrial phone connection.

Today, the legacy phone network is a relic that maintained a geographic relationship between a phone number and a physical location. Much of the phone network’s traffic is now being carried over the Internet which has no such physical constraints. You can relocate an Internet address to almost anywhere in the world. In North America this year 80% of calls to 911 were made on cellular phones. Determining physical location with cell phones is done using radio triangulation from multiple radio towers and GPS time stamps.

Nevertheless, the legacy carriers use the 911 database as part of the foundation of their physical network planning.

We have a project nearing completion where the physical address has been in existence for over a year. Somehow, the entry in the 911 database has not been propagated to where it needs to be. The carrier is not willing to provision an optical fiber data connection without it. Even though it’s impossible to use an optical fiber to make a 911 call, the carrier requires it to provision the service.

It has taken us months of conversations with the carrier to try and resolve the issue. We have pushed from all sides. We have talked to the city, to the office that issued the building permit, to the carrier. Nobody can seem to take ownership of solving the problem.