Emergency Communications Available in the Midst of NYC Blackout

As parts of New York City were plunged into darkness this weekend, emergency communications were upheld by standards that are set in place to avoid disaster in power outages.

This weekend, New York City’s Upper West side was immersed in darkness by a massive power outage caused by an equipment failure in the electrical equipment system. Thousands of residents, businesses, and scores of Broadway shows were affected, but luckily, there were standards in place to ensure the avoidance of what could have been a much larger catastrophe — emergency communications.

According to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), standards, which remain a cornerstone of emergency communications, help assure that responders can depend on the compatibility, functionality, and usability of telecommunications systems during outages and other emergencies.

The P25 suite of standards provides a foundation for interoperable, digital, two-way wireless communications for public safety and emergency responders, such as those facing a large-scale blackout. It was developed by the Telecommunications Industry Association, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.

ANSI members developed a number of standards that certain existing emergency communications systems rely on. These standards provide guidelines for locating where emergency calls originate to location accuracy for specific settings.

In addition, a new emergency communications system, called Next Generation 911, will be put in place for the United States in the near future. According to ANSI, the technology will make emergency communications even easier and more accurate.

“This system will replace the current system with a new base technology that uses different software and database control mechanisms,” ANSI wrote. “NG911 will have increased capabilities such as non-voice messaging, photo and video transmission, and interoperability to transfer calls and data with other emergency and public safety entities in addition to 911 emergency call centers.”

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