Emergency Notification Systems
This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to Emergency Notification Systems and Disaster Recovery Applications.
Our emergency broadcast and alert service can deliver a large number of phone calls using thousands of digital phone lines simultaneously. Should a snow storm, wild fire or flood hit your area, we can alert your community quickly providing specific instructions if an evacuation is required. This service is available using our emergency broadcasting systems. If a dangerous chemical spill occurs in your community, you can target specific areas to call. If a severe snow storm hits your area, your community can be notified of school closings or event cancellations.
The following article relates to emergency 911 broadcasting systems, specifically 911 history.
The Origins Of 911 (Part 2)
The following is an extract from the article "History Of 911" contained on the website www.911dispatch.com. Please visit this site for more 911 related information.
The Good Ole Days
by Thomas B. Norling
Where did it all start? This is hard to define, and much harder
to answer. We humans, when we found we were in distress, will call out for
help using our voices. Or to put it another way, we humans communicate,
whether it's by voice, drums, fire or electrical or electronic means. In
so doing, we are letting others know that we need help or other services.
With the advent of the invention of both the telegraph and telephone
systems, emergency communication became a very important part of these systems;
to a point where our telephone operators became our first real dispatchers
and they became known as Central.
These people knew almost every person connected with the system where
they worked. They had the knowledge of who to contact for almost any emergency,
whether it be fire, police or medical needs. As these telephone systems
began to expand, the task of providing this type of service also expanded.
So where did it all start? It started with the local telephone company.
[Editor: And that telephone company was in Haleyville,
Who started emergency reporting systems? This can be answered
by looking into the history of telephony. There one will find the beginning
of most all telephone operations was a need to provide emergency communications.
And with this need in mind, the people involved put into operation a telephone
system that provided that service. The fact remains that local people formed
their own telephone net works, and these companies (or co-ops) became some
of the very large telephone companies known today.
Who started emergency reporting systems? Telephone people and telephone
co-ops to meet a need.
Why are telephone companies not as much involved with the dispatching
operation today? Look again at the history of the telephone industry.
But to state that the telephone industry is less-involved would not be a
true statement. As we go on into this subject, one will find the telephone
industry is very much involved, and will be as long as there is a need for
Telephone operations are not providing the dispatching and handling of
emergency calling today because the ever-expanding companies reached a point
where it was much better handled by local dispatching systems who were part
of the serving area.
The advent of national toll dialing and the central operator operations
made it too much of an undertaking for the telephone system for these very
companies to provide this type of service.
The telephone industry set out to develop and put into operation the
Emergency Service Dispatch systems and to make the telephone systems function
for this service.
When the telephone operations set up for emergency calling systems,
what were the major changes made to telephone operations? This question
should be divided into a number of answers, for to put it into one lumped
answer would not serve to answer what the reader would wish to know. Let
us look at some of the major changes that took place, without going into
too much detail.
First, equipment changes on the part of the telephone system. The telephone
company equipment had to provide the means to hold the originating calling
line so the call could be checked should the calling party hang up or be
disconnected. This was the same type of service that was provided when local
telephone operator provided this service. (Sometimes called CLR holding.)
Second, equipment changes on the part of the telephone system so that
the calling party could be rung back when the calling party went back on
hook. This feature was limited where party lines were involved but still
could be done if and when required. Third, equipment changes to the public
telephone (paystation) methods of operation. This did provide a major problem
for the telephone companies in that the change required a standard method
of operation throughout the country.
(a) The public telephones had to provide dial-tone first. Telephones
that required a coin deposit before the call originator would hear dial
tone had to he changed to provide dial-tone-first. (b) The public telephones
had to be coin-free when dialing service codes and emergency service dispatch.
(c) The public telephones had to return any coin deposited when the call
originator called emergency service codes.
These changes were a major hardship to both large and small operating
telephone companies. Each of these changes involved much development and
the need for new methods of handling public telephones and emergency call
handling. [Editor: The technology of 911
hasn't changed much in the intervening years.]
Why the dialing code 9-1-1? This is a real hard question to answer
and my first response is: Why not?
Everyone has his or her own access code and I have heard most of them.
But the truth is that AT&T and USITA had to come up with one for the
telephone system--for the total system.
I was an engineer for AECO Gen Tel Labs when I became part of this task
force. And believe me, this was no snap; it took much time to resolve. No
one wanted to give in, but as time went on, we all came to the same understanding.
The access code had to be three digits. The first digit had to be an N digit,
meaning it had to be one of the digits 2 through 9. The digit 1 or 0 could
not be used. The second and third digits had to be 1.
So the real problem was what was the first digit going to be and the
task force set out to resolve this problem.
It came down to the fact that the digit 9 was the easiest to clear for
access, because in many systems it was already clear; in others, equipment
changes were small. With this, 9-1-1 was selected and work started to make
this an access code back as far as the late '50s.
There was one other factor that helped resolve this, and it was the location
of this digit on the dial or keypad.
If one had to dial 9-1-1 in the dark, all one had to do was place the
finger in the dial, slide the finger from the one position all the way around
to the zero position, back up one step and this would be the ninth position
or digit 9.
Then the call originator would again place the finger into the 1st position;
this would he the digit one--and dial it two times. The outcome would he
With the keypad, the call originator would locate the lower righthand
key position (the # or pound key) and move straight up to the next position,
which is the digit 9. Then move the finger so the upper-most left hand side,
which is the digit one. With this method, one could easily dial 9-1-1 in
How did the telephone number and address play a part in emergency
reporting systems? From the emergency reporting dispatch center of operation,
the answer is self explanatory. This was the means to complete the call-handling.
From the operating telephone company directing the call, it was used
to provide the emergency service center with much-needed information.
The telephone companies made use of their automatic number identification
used in toll billing to provide the directory number, and with this, the
billing address from the billing computer. Backup came from the outside
plant records computers to provide additional information where the billing
address may have been a post office box. There were other methods used where
the originating call came from a telephone service at two or more locations.
Here, secondary class marking determined the originating party location.
In any event, an originating party address was found in most applications
and forwarded to the emergency service dispatch center.
How did the very early emergency service center receive the information
from the operating telephone companies? The voice part of the call was
via telephone circuits where as many as were needed were provided to meet
the service needs. As to the very early systems, Model 28 and 33 Teletype
equipment was used. In time, these were replaced with computer equipment
with printers and then CRTs.
This was and is now an on going process. Who knows what the future will
Is there any reason why anyone with telephone service should be denied
911 service today? Being an ex-telephone engineer, I don't like to answer
this question. But to be fair to both sides, I can only say No--every telephone
user in this country should and could have access to 911 service.. The telephone
industry already has developed equipment. The local governments have the
means now to provide the services. There can be no real reason to keep people
from having access to 91 1
Why has there been little or no published information on how and why
the development of emergency dispatch systems? My answer is there has
been much documentation on this subject, but one has to know where to look.
Many people do not really wish to go into that much detail. The real answer
is that the information is out there, but a real demand for this information
is not. For those who want this type of documentation, it's there; but it
requires real effort to locate it. . .
What do you see in the future of emergency dispatching systems?
As an old timer who has designed and helped with the development of these
systems, I .see a very big future using computer software and the newer
The dispatchers and responders are going to have many new tools. There
are many new features where everyone involved will soon have much of the
same information at the same time. The need to call up information from
the past will also be provided.
I have now provided you, the readers, my input into this subject. I know
those involved in the dispatching side know that we old-timers look up to
you for the fine job you are doing.