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FCC seeks public help with 911 outage investigation

Thursday - 7/19/2012, 4:57pm  ET

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - The Federal Communication Commission has begun a probe into the loss of 911 emergency service for more than million people in the Washington region after the June 29 derecho.

The probe will look at what went wrong and ways to prevent it from happening again.

David Turetsky, chief of Public Safety and Homeland Security for FCC, told the commission on Thursday that the investigation will also look at ways to improve the system, such as texting and the next generation of 911 service.

The FCC is also soliciting public comments, which can be made at fcc.gov/comments. Turetsky says that includes hearing from people with specific knowledge of what went wrong.

The system is run by Verizon, which has blamed the outages on the loss of power and two backup generators.

During the meeting, Commissioner Robert McDowell says they will also look to see if there is a fundmental flaw in 911.

"Not only must we be prepared for unforseen natural phenomena, but being the capital of the United States we must be prepared for potential terrorist attack as well," he says.

There is no indication how long the investigation will take. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments is also going to investigate the breakdown of 911, which left people in Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties, as well as the cities of Alexandria, Manassas and Manassas Park, without service for several days.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

Tags: fccderecho