911 Providers to Ensure Consistent Services

     WASHINGTON (CN) - In response to a number of 911 power outages during a severe windstorm in 2012, the Federal Communications Commission is requiring emergency service providers to "take reasonable measures" to ensure consistent service.
     In June 2012, a windstorm called a derecho swept through parts of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic, killing 22 people and creating power outages for millions.
     The derecho, which spread from Iowa to Virginia, disrupted a number of 911 call centers in different ways.
     In Northern Virginia and West Virginia, some 911 systems were down for as long as twelve hours, preventing more than two million people from calling for emergency services.
     Following the storm, the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau launched an inquiry into the 911 outages and issued a report concluding that many of the failures could have been mitigated or avoided altogether.
     Friday, the FCC issued a regulation requiring 911 service providers to take "reasonable measures" to ensure that they have consistent service.
     Under the new rule, service providers can apply "best practices" based on industry consensus and adopted by the FCC, or alternative methods that sufficiently decrease risks of failure.
     The FCC also requires service providers to give call centers immediate notification of 911 outages with specific details about the outage and the affected area.
     Service providers must also keep records for two years and provide the FCC with such records on request.
     The FCC also requires all covered 911 service providers to file annual certification to show they comply with the FCC's reasonable measures to ensure 911 services.
     The regulation is effective Feb. 18, with the exception of a section involving paperwork collection requirements.