about purchasing a communications service to help you in the event
of emergency? Considering
downloading an application that adds "extras" to 9-1-1 on your
Smart phone? Are you looking into buying a
communications product that will assist you to locate a lost or
missing disabled or elderly person
the 9-1-1 system? Have you purchased a 9-1-1 application? Before
you do, here's some
information that should help inform you about the myriad of
products and services that are being marketed to
as well as some of limits on the current 9-1-1 system.
Non-service initialized phones:
order issued by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC),
9-1-1 calls made from cellular
must be routed to a 9-1-1 center (commonly known as a .public
safety answering point or PSAP),
they have active service from a provider or not
phones are known as NSI phones and 9-1-1 calls on NSI phones
usually route to a PSAP,
most cases, they DO NOT provide the caller's call-back number or
the caller's location.
services, such as alerting services (like one-touch calling
services for senior citizens) may
phones to call 9-1-1 on a wireless-cellular device. If this is
the case, in most circumstances, no call-back number or location
information will accompany the call.
donated wireless phones that are given away in charitable
programs are NSI phones.
also known as SMS (or short message service) has become a
common means for people to
While texting is often quick, convenient, and in some cases,
even easier than making a phone call, the
technology to text 9-1-1 has not vet
evolved! At this time, text 9-1-1 messages
cannot be moved into the 9-1-1 routing system, nor can
location information be provided via text, or can a 9-1-1
phone line send an outgoing text message.
Until a broad 9-1-1 network upgrade has been done and a system
for the provider to send 9-1-1 text messages has been
established, use your regular voice-based system or TTY to
activate an emergency call.
you are hard of hearing or deaf and do not have access to a
TTY, a 9-1-1 call on a voice-based line may be your best
option, even if you are unable to speak.
Before the widespread use of 9-1-1, dialing "0" for a telephone
operator was commonly used as a means to report an emergency.
While 9-1-1 has replaced this system, it is still sometimes used
by some people in an emergency.
• Be aware! Responses and capabilities of the "0" for operator
vary from provider to provider (and even from state to state).
• Your location may not be displayed to the operator.
• Your call may be answered by a communications provider's
operator outside of your state who is not familiar with your
emergency response system and may not be trained to answer
emergency calls to the level that an emergency
In some areas, disconnected landline phones will
still be able to dial 9-1-1, in other areas they cannot. This
varies from provider to provider and if it is a potential issue
in your household, it is advisable to check with your telephone
provider in advance.
Are you thinking of switching providers, phone
service, or technology?
now a myriad of products on the markets, many of them
offering lower costs and more options for service (such as
multiple lines, voice mail, and data service).
is important to research any product or service
that you are thinking of buying, since they are regulated at
different levels, and in some emerging technologies, they may
have not have any regulatory oversight at all.
do not work if you do not have electricity.
Subscription based services:
searching for a simple, easy way to use a product to activate an
emergency response for you in the
you can't reach the phone, such a device that can be worn as a
pendant or clipped to a belt, make
ask the provider-seller, "What does it do?" If a product
is being sold and promises to reach a
center, ask the following questions:
Does the product provide location information of the caller to
Does the product provide a call-back number to the PSAP?
your answer is "NO" to A or B above, ask the provider selling
you the service if the emergency call is routed to a
private-corporate call center that can contact a PSAP for you
with your location information and information about the
inception of SmartPhones, iPhones, Droids, and the ever-growing
options of data-based services that you
can have literally at your fingertips, the axiom, "there's an
app for that" can also extend to different services using the
term 9-1-1. If you want to download an app, make sure you
educate yourself about what you are getting. Here are some
questions which you should ask:
Where does this service work and is the information from the
application available everywhere? Not all jurisdictions across
the country participate in notification systems or have the
ability to update events in "real time."
you download an application, ask yourself, "How is this
application going to help in an
For instance, how is an application that contacts third
parties for you when you call on going to affect you and
them when you make an emergency call?
Do you have the personal resources to keep that
Are others aware that you have made them part of your
the technology market for consumers is constantly evolving and new
products and services are emerging all the time. If you have
a question or if the product sounds to "too good to be true",
here to send us an email or call (269) 657-3101. If
you'd like to learn more about 9-1-1 in Michigan, visit the State
9-1-1 Committee's Web site at: