The Virginia State Corporation Commission staff today (Sept. 14) issued its preliminary findings in an investigation (case number PUC-2012-00042) of issues associated with 911 service in Virginia after the June 29 Derecho. The following statement should be attributed to Anthony Lewis, vice president for Verizon's Mid-Atlantic region.
"Verizon takes very seriously its role as part of the 911 ecosystem, which also includes 911 center call takers and first responders on the streets. Day in and day out, this ecosystem functions well together to provide citizens with reliable 911 service.
"Our investigation of the 911 service issues associated with the June 29 Derecho has pointed to a number of areas for improvement, and we are diligently pursuing them.
"As the SCC staff notes, Verizon has taken quick action to resolve these issues, and that effort continues. We have corrected the problems that caused generator failures in our Arlington and Fairfax offices and have made solid progress on a number of fronts, including:
- "Conducting backup power system audits of all critical Verizon 911 facilities in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. We estimate that these audits will be completed by the end of October, and we will correct any issues that we find.
- "Beefing up procedures to identify power issues and manually start backup generators in the event they don't start automatically.
- "Enhancing our backup power testing procedures to more closely simulate emergency situations.
- "Accelerating and enhancing our alert and mobilization procedures when backup batteries are activated in key facilities.
- Decentralizing and diversifying our network monitoring system so that any single location has less of a critical impact on our overall monitoring capability.
- "Improving communications with 911 center directors and other government officials during emergencies. By the end of this month, we will have completed four of the five recommendations made by northern Virginia 911 center directors - including an electronic notification system that will provide information to key 911 center personnel -- via voice, email and text -- on situations that may affect 911 services or other Verizon issues.
- "Having an on-site presence at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center in Richmond upon request of the commonwealth's Department of Emergency Management. This will help with communication and coordination among state and local governments, as well as power companies and other key stakeholders.
"We will closely review the staff's preliminary findings. And we will continue to improve our network's resiliency, apply lessons learned and work with the public safety community - as well as local, state and federal government officials - to ensure that citizens receive the very best 911 service possible."