Whoever thinks that their call to 911 would go unanswered? But in a terrifying incident this spring, thousands of Americans found themselves in need of help — and got none. For six hours, emergency services went dark for more than 11 million people across seven states. The entire state of Washington found itself disconnected from 911. The outage may have gone unnoticed by some, but for the more than 6,000 people trying to reach help, April 9 may well have been the scariest time of their lives.
Now a study from the Federal Communications Commission offers the most in-depth explanation of the outage and why it occurred. In a 40-page report, the FCC found that an entirely preventable software error was responsible for causing 911 service to drop. The incident affected 81 call dispatch centers, rendering emergency services inoperable in all of Washington and parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, California, Minnesota and Florida.