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Comment: Re:Just flag the NSI calls (Score 1) 211

by Gaerek (#49704513) Attached to: FCC May Stop 911 Access For NSI Phones
I work at a PSAP and we can tell if a phone is NSI or not. The ANI/ALI looks like a cell phone except in place of the regular area code, it shows (911) instead. As a 911 dispatcher, I can't be skeptical. If someone says they think something is happening, I have to take them at their word, even if every red flag is flying. Why? Liability. If my red flags are wrong, and I just hung up on a legit emergency that I thought was fake, at best, I'll have some kind of low level official reprimand, I could lose my job, or worst case I can lose everything because the person who called decides to take me to court (which they could do).

I don't think disabling the phones is the answer, well, it's part of the answer. Require providers to activate phones for 911 only use on request for free. Best of both worlds, and a good compromise. If you want an emergency phone, you can have one. But it prevents all the issues that come with random deactivated phones being able to tie up 911 lines.

Comment: Re:Obvious point of comparison? (Score 1) 211

by Gaerek (#49704473) Attached to: FCC May Stop 911 Access For NSI Phones
I work at a PSAP. I don't have hard data. But based on experience, landlines are generally always a legit call (whether it's an emergency or non-emergency, doesn't really matter). When people call from land lines they usually need help. Pranking 911 from a land line, is very rare, and is such a bad idea because I get the subscriber name and address as soon as the call connects. And because of how the phone system works in the US, the address given MUST be the physical address of the phone.

Activated cell phones have a lower legit rate than landlines. This is mainly because of butt dialing. Most 911 calls are made by activated cell phones. It's rare to get a prank from a cell phone. PSAPs do not get subscriber information on cell phones. We get the number, the tower its pinging off, location coordinates, and an "uncertainty factor" measured in meters. We can, however, request subscriber information from providers in certain circumstances that I won't get into here.

NSI phones have the lowest legit call rate. They have all the problems of a cell phone, plus no way to get subscriber information. People also for some reason think we can't get location information from an NSI phone. This is false. But it adds to peoples perceived anonymity when it comes to this phone. Most prank calls come from these phones. Most "dumb" requests come from these phones (because people who have them can't dial anything but 911, so they call us thinking we can help them with their everyday shit). Although there are legit calls (again, not necessarily emergencies, just legitimate calls) from NSI phones, they are few and far between. It's very rare to get an actual emergency call from one of these phones.

Comment: Re:Trolling Douchebags (Score 1) 211

by Gaerek (#49704435) Attached to: FCC May Stop 911 Access For NSI Phones
I work at a PSAP and without seeing our hard data (we usually don't publish this data and it's usually not even available for 911 dspatchers to see) but from experience, 70% illegitimate is way too low. It's easily over 90%. Most prank calls come in from NSI phones, for 2 reasons. 1) People for some reason think we can't get location information from them...completely wrong. 2) Parents give their old deactivated iPhones to their kids thinking it can't make calls anymore, and they either accidentally dial 911 while playing, or get bored and do it because of 1) above.

Allow me to give you an anecdote from my last time on shift. Our center received 10 calls from the same phone over a 20 minute period. The phone was an NSI phone. And each time the line was answered, a kid made some crude comment and hung up. I personally talked to this kid twice. First time, after saying "911, where is your emergency?" he answered, "Deez nutz!" and hung up. The second time he made some comment about my mama and her cunt, and of course, hung up. Unfortunately we were never able to get phase 2 location data so there was no way to do anything about it. Instead, this kid tied up lines that should have been available for actual emergency calls. Granted, it's unlikely that this incident alone would have caused a significant delay in response to a true emergency, it is still a quite common problem, that could be nearly eliminated if NSI phones weren't allowed to dial 911.

Comment: Re:Trolling Douchebags (Score 1) 211

by Gaerek (#49704357) Attached to: FCC May Stop 911 Access For NSI Phones
I'm just curious where you're getting your information from. 100's on staff? Yet only 4 calls per hour PEAK? I'd be wanting my money back if I were a taxpayer. My center (where I work) is at 90% staffing which is almost unheard of in this industry. And the 90% isn't just some arbitrary staffing level some bean counter decided would be good. It's based on decades of research, by APCO and other industry organizations that look at a variety of different variables. I'll admit, there are times when I may only answer 4 calls in an hour, but there are also times where I'm answering 30 calls in an hour, with several lines on hold. In an 8 hour shift, it's not uncommon for me to answer 100 calls in a shift.

You say the public wouldn't allow a situation where someone had to wait on hold? I'll tell you it's impossible for that situation to never arise unless you have way more people answering phones than you should. The thing about staffing a PSAP is it's all about compromise. If you staff for minimal call load, you'll put yourself in a world of hurt when something big happens. If you staff so that no one ever has to hold, then 90% of the time you're paying people to sit around and do nothing most of the time. Optimal is somewhere near the middle. I know we're talking about 911, the emergency number, but most calls that come in through 911 are not emergencies and can be put on hold without affecting the outcome. One of the most annoying phrases we have to listen to all day is, "Well, it's not really an emergency, but..." The thing is though, if you call because you believe someone is breaking into your home, for example, I would never put you on hold. I will stay on that line until the situation is resolved. In actual emergencies you will not be put on hold unless absolutely needed.

I'm glad I don't live in your area. I'd be pissed to have to pay those workers to only answer 32 calls in an 8 hour period. I'm guessing you really don't know what it's like there. You're assuming to make it sound like putting a 911 call on hold is a bad thing. I don't look at it like that. It's not about the line someone calls in, it's about the content of the call. If you're calling because someone stole your phone? Guess what, not an emergency and you can hold for real emergencies.We'll respond but it'll be the lowest priority we can assign to a call. If 50 people are calling to report the same thing (traffic light blinking red/not working, traffic accident, etc), guess what? Once we get the initial call in, we can be very selective about who we talk to, and those lines can hold.

I tell this to a lot of people because most people have no idea what it's like working in one of these centers. People think they do. But they're mostly wrong. My suggestion is contact them and see if you can arrange a "sit-along." Just like most police departments allow ride alongs with officers, they also a lot of times let the public sit with a call taker/dispatcher. It's easier to formulate opinions when you see what the job is actually like. Most of the time it's not that exciting. You'll see exactly why your 4 calls an hour at peak is absolutely ridiculous. Even though I answer 100 calls in a shift, I will usually only get 1 actual "life or death" emergency, but more often than not its more like 0. Most of the time it's people wanting police reports for various things like harassment, theft, vandalism, etc.

Comment: Re:Trolling Douchebags (Score 1) 211

by Gaerek (#49704295) Attached to: FCC May Stop 911 Access For NSI Phones
The problem with that is one of liability. What if something is happening to the person who called and the phone hangs up suddenly for some reason (attacker turns off phone, phone is dropped and broken, etc). Although these are fairly rare, it does happen quite often in domestic situations. It's amazing how often the victims have a change of heart after they've dialed 911. Essentially if the department had a blanket policy of no response to NSI phones unless there's reason to believe someone is wrong is opening up the dept for a huge lawsuit.

Having said that, our sergeants have discretion to not respond to hangups/open lines. Usually if there's a good location, regardless of what was or wasn't heard on the other line, we will send someone to check it out. Most sergeants are reluctant to not respond because if there is an actual emergency and we don't respond, the liability falls on their shoulders. So they usually want a good reason not to go before they declare negative response. Most of the time it'll be based on how good the location information is. If it's under 100m uncertainty, we're gonna go. If it's 1000m, we probably won't. Unfortunately, it's our lawsuit happy society that dictates this, not common sense.

I want to make it clear I don't have a problem with there being phones that only have 911 capability. I have a problem with every single cell phone, ever made, having that capability automatically. There have been some good suggestions in these threads. 911 only SIMs. Allowing people who want the capability of dialing 911 from their deactivated phone to register it with a carrier, etc. I'll be honest, if this were an all or nothing thing, I'd be on the side of keeping it the way it is. But this is a big enough problem that it's worth working on solutions for. Allow deactivated phones to be registered as "911 only" for free. But make it require an action. When you deactivate a phone or pull the sim card, you should remove it's ability to make any kind of call. But you should have the option to allow it to make emergency calls, if you want to. I think that's quite a fair compromise that won't be detrimental to public safety while at the same time allowing emergency resources to be used more efficiently. Its a win-win.

Comment: Re:Trolling Douchebags (Score 2) 211

by Gaerek (#49695967) Attached to: FCC May Stop 911 Access For NSI Phones
I work for a county sheriff's dept. There's close to 2 million population wise in the county, but our jurisdiction covers only about 500,000 people. The incorporated municipalities within the county cover the other 1.5 million or so. My center dispatches police only. We're what's known as a Primary PSAP. We receive the initial 911 call from the public. From there, we determine whether the emergency is police, fire or medical in nature and triage the call accordingly. If it's fire or medical, we transfer it to the proper fire/ems Secondary PSAP. Almost all of our employees at the center are cross trained to do dispatch and call taking, though we don't do both at the same time as what happens in smaller centers. All of our call takers are also responsible for answering non-emergency lines, internal communications lines (dedicated lines for the officers to call in), hot lines (or ring downs, depending on what term you use) from other agencies, in addition to the 911 lines.

All that said, we receive over 1000 calls per day from the public, which translates to somewhere around 300-350 calls for service daily. Of course, this number varies based on many different things. Day of the week, time of the year, holidays, etc. For example, Monday mornings are usually very busy because people who put off calling over the weekend, are going to try on their way to work, or before work. Friday and Saturday nights are usually pretty busy as well. At any given time, we'll have anywhere from 1-7 dedicated call takers on shift. This number varies based on time of day, day of the week, whether breaks are being given, etc. Our center is very lucky in that we have nearly 90% of our optimal work force. Most centers are operating near 70% due to the high turnover and difficulty and time needed to train new dispatchers (my training, including classroom and on the job took 22 weeks from start to finish, and less than half that started with me made it through).

Calls per hours is difficult to calculate. We could just take 1000/24 to get about 42 calls per hour, but that really doesn't fit what the actual experience is. I still haven't figured out why, but calls come in in waves for some reason. It could be dead for 30 minutes, with only 4 or 5 calls coming in, then all of a sudden the phone blows up and you have 5 call takers answering lines constantly for an hour, and having to put some lines on hold to deal with the volume. Staffing is set up to deal with the spikes. And we know basically when the spikes typically happen. We do have a decent amount of downtime, but when the calls come in, you need enough bodies to answer them.

Having said all that, there are some centers that are literally 1 person, they answer phones and dispatch. Then you get others that look like the call center in "The Call" (terribly inaccurate movie, btw) that service big cities, like LA or NY. I'd imagine most centers are more like the one I work in. Not huge, but not small. Anyway, hope that answered some of your questions. Got a bit long winded. Anything else you're curious about? Ask away.

Comment: Re:Are we primarily talking about 'swatting' attac (Score 3, Informative) 211

by Gaerek (#49690073) Attached to: FCC May Stop 911 Access For NSI Phones
Coming from someone who works at a LE Comm center and has taken a "SWATing call..." the simplest versions are someone using Skype or similar service to dial into a LE non-emergency number. That's how the one call I took worked. We didn't activate SWAT either, it was apparent when officers were on scene nothing was going on. As other have said, the more sophisticated methods involve ANI/ALI spoofing. Not easy, but not impossible. Haven't seen this method used, but heard about it.

We cannot normally get subscriber information on wireless phones. The information we get is the phone number, the tower it's pinging off of, and sometimes location information gained either by triangulation from nearby cell towers or the phones internal GPS. It works this way whether its an activated phone or an NSI phone. So regardless of which, I can get at least some degree of location information off of ANY wireless phone. (The scene in the movie The Call where they say we can't get location information because it's a prepaid is complete bullshit, fabricated for the sake of the plot).

The real issue is having to use finite resources to respond to fraudulent or illegitimate calls. When you consider most police departments and 911 call centers are short staffed as it is, it makes this an even bigger problem.

Comment: Re:Trolling Douchebags (Score 4, Informative) 211

by Gaerek (#49689833) Attached to: FCC May Stop 911 Access For NSI Phones
Here's the other side of the coin you aren't thinking about. This coming from someone who works at a PSAP and answers those emergency lines. First, in my experiences, the number of legit 911 calls from NSI phones is no where close to the 30% cited. It's probably closer to 5-10%. Most are butt dials or kids playing with a deactivated old iphone their parents gave them. The real problem is the amount of time we have to spend dealing with these fraudulent or illegitimate calls from NSI phones. It's time that could be spent, oh I don't know, answering a legitimate call. Instead, I have to rebid the phone to try to get phase 2 location information which is sometimes quick, but other times can take significant time. Not to mention place a call for service which takes time, but also ties up resources that could be better spent, oh, I don't know responding to a legitimate call. Or, its someone who knows they can only dial 911 and abuse that...use your imagination to how that could be used. Although your "what if" is plausible, it's highly improbable. And leaving NSI phones the way they are could cause a delayed response to a legitimate emergency, which could kill someone.

And keep in mind, what I consider a legitimate call isn't necessarily an emergency call either. It's pretty damn rare to get a legitimate emergency call from an NSI phone. Usually it's someone reporting a stolen phone or some other low priority. This isn't about cost effectiveness, it's about efficient use of limited resources. It sucks watching officers do the 911 hangup/open line wild goose chase when there's legit emergencies to respond to.

Comment: Re:Ignorance (Score 2) 461

by Gaerek (#43462971) Attached to: How much I care about GMO food labeling:

most of thrr people who "obsess" with "gluten-free-ism" do that because they have a very real (Medical) problem , So I guess everybody should get a bit of education everywhere ;)

This is untrue. "Gluten-Free" is being marketed as health food. I think it's a good idea to have a label on food with Gluten, so that those with a problem can avoid food that has gluten. However, most people who are obsessed with Gluten free believe that gluten is the cause of all sorts of problems in everyone, whereas the real problem is fairly rare. I've been lectured several times by the "Gluten-Free Obsessed" that I'm killing myself by eating bread. It's an epidemic of ignorance. I think the real problem though is that Gluten Free is being marketed as health food (and labeled and sold as such) when in fact, if you aren't gluten intolerant or have celiac disease, gluten free does absolutely nothing healthy for you.

Comment: Re:Politics (Score 1) 632

by Gaerek (#41527659) Attached to: You Can't Print a Gun If You Have No 3D Printer
I'd like to see you make a 9mm zip gun out of an ABS pipe, a nail and a rubber band, film it, and put it on youtube. You won't do that because you are smart enough to know that ABS plastic isn't even close to strong enough to contain the explosion of the powder in the round. The brass casing isn't strong enough. You need a steel barrel. Linked is a picture of the barrel of a sub-compact Glock. That will be more than sufficient to set off any security grade metal detector.

http://www.mouseguns.com/glockall/barrel.jpg

And for fun, here's a link to a video of a 9mm round exploding in the breech of a Berreta 92 (also known as the M9 in the military), the current service pistol of the Army (not sure about other branches, Coast Guard issues Sig Sauer 229, I know). In other words, the brass needs to have some thing sufficient to contain it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-EvhL3k-1o

That big metal block on the barrel linked above is where the explosion actually takes place. Replace that with plastic...and you have what is commonly known as a bomb.

Comment: Re:Overreaction. (Score 1) 632

by Gaerek (#41527521) Attached to: You Can't Print a Gun If You Have No 3D Printer
When the first auto-loading pistols were being brought to market around the turn of the century (think Luger, or 1911) they were commonly called Automatic Pistols. Even though they would only fire once per pull of the trigger (semi-automatic). Today, there are a few people that still use this terminology, but most people just say Pistol (as most pistols are semi-auto anymore), or auto-loading pistol (as opposed to a revolver which isn't auto-loading). Today, when most people say automatic, they mean, the gun will fire as long as your finger is pressing the trigger, and there's ammo to be loaded. An automatic rifle, as mentioned in the Wired article, almost certainly refers to a machine gun.

Comment: Re:Illegal, without a question. (Score 1) 632

by Gaerek (#41527309) Attached to: You Can't Print a Gun If You Have No 3D Printer
Except that it's impossible to make a gun (even with a 3D printer) without metal parts. At the very least, the barrel, firing pin, bolt, and recoil springs (semi-auto) will have to be metal. These parts are readily available from gun stores and online. The printer is used to make the frame. Look at the Glock. People call it "plastic" but there is more metal in it than plastic. The slide is metal, the fire control mechanism is all metal, the barrel is metal, the recoil spring is metal. With the exception of maybe parts of the fire control mechanism (certainly not the stiker/firing pin) the gun would cease to function without metal. If you fire a round through a plastic barrel, you'll learn quickly the physics of a mini pipe bomb. In other words, what the guy in the article was doing was 100% legal.

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