FCC Does Something Right: Proposes Making Suicide Prevention Hotline A Three Digit Number

from the good-for-them dept

We give FCC chair Ajit Pai a lot of grief (to be fair: we've given basically every FCC chair a lot of grief over the years). However, when he does something right we should give him credit. And he's now embraced a plan to give the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline its own 3 digit number, likely to be 988. This is one of those simple plans that just makes sense. Thankfully, there's been a lot greater awareness over the past few years concerning the hotline and suicide prevention in general -- but you still need to remember the phone number. Most people don't (it's 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), in case you don't know). Moving it to a simple three digit number is a good idea that should save lives.

The FCC staff studied several options for the dialing code before going forward with proposing the 9-8-8 number, including repurposing of some of the existing three-digit codes that end with 1-1. The report also explains why directing suicide hotline calls through the existing 9-1-1 infrastructure could be unworkable.

“For example, calls to 911 average 2 minutes or less, and 911 call-takers focus on identifying the nature of the emergency and the caller’s location to enable prompt dispatch of appropriate emergency response. Thus, the 911 system is not well-suited to provide suicide prevention counseling or to respond to calls that can be handled through conversation with a trained mental health professional rather than dispatching first responders,” the report said.

Kudos to Pai and the FCC for moving forward on this.

Filed Under: 988, ajit pai, fcc, national suicide prevention lifeline, suicide prevention


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  • identicon
    Brig C. McCoy, 26 Aug 2019 @ 6:43am

    Three digit suicide prevention hotline....

    I like the general idea, but how much difficulty are existing phone systems going to have in working with it? I remember how much trouble it was to add additional 800 number exchanges (888, 866, etc.) to phone systems, isn't this going to face the same challenges?

    ...brig

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 6:49am

      Re: Three digit suicide prevention hotline....

      Well we certainly don't want to do the right thing if it's going to be at all difficult.

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      • icon
        Brig C. McCoy (profile), 26 Aug 2019 @ 6:53am

        Re: Re: Three digit suicide prevention hotline....

        I'm fine with the idea, just want to make sure folks know there is going to be some transition effort for many folks, not just someone at AT&T flipping a switch.

        ...brig

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2019 @ 7:08am

          Well we certainly don't want to do the right thing if it's going to be at all difficult.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 10:32am

            Re:

            Difficulty can be a reason why something is not the right thing, especially if the benefit is small. For example, if people keep calling 9-1-1 for this subclass of health emergency, because they don't know about or forgot about the new number.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 11:57am

              Re: Re:

              Well if everyone doesn't immediately know about something, then it's definitely the wrong thing.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2019 @ 12:04pm

              Well we certainly don't want to do the right thing if it's going to be at all difficult.

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            • icon
              nasch (profile), 27 Aug 2019 @ 8:58am

              Re: Re:

              For example, if people keep calling 9-1-1 for this subclass of health emergency, because they don't know about or forgot about the new number.

              How could this possibly make that problem worse? I don't see any reason the old number would have to be disconnected.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2019 @ 11:20am

                Re: I don't see any reason the old number has to be disconnected

                We live in a very exclusive neighbourhood. The fire brigade has an unlisted number.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 8:43am

        Re: Re: Three digit suicide prevention hotline....

        Is it really the right thing? I can't follow the logic of the quoted reason. Existing calls are short, so they should always be short? Is there a technical limitation that prevents them from transferring the call to a trained mental health professional? (I get an "unauthorized" error from the FCC link so can't check whether they say.)

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 9:03am

          Re: Re: Re: Three digit suicide prevention hotline....

          They want to get the mental health calls off of the 9-1-1 system, because that system is designed to get resources dispatched to a person quickly, and having to talk down a suicidal person takes a long time. Having worked in a call centre (technical, not dispatch or counselling), it's amazing how much one call taking a few minutes longer than average can throw the whole system off.

          I'm sure they can transfer the call to a professional, but that centre might be backlogged as well, and I can just imagine the amount of shit that would come down on a call centre (and/or dispatcher) if they put some suicidal people on hold or botched the hand-off, and those people killed themselves with no one to talk to.

          It's better for people in mental distress to just have their own number to call, and take that responsibility off the plate of the 9-1-1 dispatchers altogether. That way, dispatchers don't have to watch the queue of incoming emergency calls start to pile up, nor to keep engaging people in distress until they can be transferred, nor to leave them to their own thoughts while waiting.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 9:34am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Three digit suicide prevention hotline....

            That way, dispatchers don't have to watch the queue of incoming emergency calls start to pile up, nor to keep engaging people in distress until they can be transferred, nor to leave them to their own thoughts while waiting.

            If the suicide hotline is backlogged, 9-8-8 isn't going to work any better for the suicidal person. Yes, it will avoid 9-1-1 taking the blame for that...

            By this logic, we could add a new number 9-7-7 for people needing CPR instructions, which 9-1-1 dispatchers will occasionally spend a bunch of time on. Different numbers for different health emergencies puts an extra burden on the public and effectively designates certain health problems second-class.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 10:08am

              Re: different numbers for different emergencies?

              If there were different numbers for different emergencies? A good first step would be to give the ambulance its own number, so that patients aren't forced to call the police station (which is where 9-1-1 often or usually terminates) to turn over confidential medical information which shouldn't be going anywhere near the police.

              For instance, the powers that be expect a patient to call 9-1-1 for a street drug overdose? That number calls the cop shop? That's a confession, not a request for life-saving aid, at that point. Bonus points if the patient has immigration problems, a history of driving while black or anything else which is a serious crime stateside.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 10:27am

              Re: Three digit suicide prevention hotline....

              If the suicide hotline is backlogged, 9-8-8 isn't going to work any better for the suicidal person. It will, however, stop the backlog from propagating to affect other 9-1-1 calls, such as structural fires, if it takes a long time to "talk down" a suicidal person while dispatching the hosers to extinguish a fire is done quickly and urgently.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 10:51am

                Re: Re: Three digit suicide prevention hotline....

                Exactly the point I was trying to make, thank you.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 1:20pm

                Re: Re: Three digit suicide prevention hotline....

                if it takes a long time to "talk down" a suicidal person

                Why would the dispatcher need to do that? Once they categorize the call they can forward to the proper department.

                It's a fair point about the backlog, but we could say the same thing about, for example, a broken leg. Unlike a structural fire or mass shooting, only one person is affected, and that could be a lower-priority call.

                9-1-1 already allows contact with three distinct groups: police, fire, and ambulance. The same goes for 112. That must have been intentional. Many European countries did/do have different numbers for all three and decided, for some reason, to move to a single number.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 2:22pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Three digit suicide prevention hotline....

                  Once they categorize the call they can forward to the proper department.

                  It is still one of the lines into their system being occupied for along period of time. Avoiding that would mean that your phone can be forced to a different line, and that would be all too easy to abuse, such as redirects to premium phone numbers.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 5:01pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Three digit suicide prevention hotline....

                  Why would the dispatcher need to do that?

                  Because, unlike other calls, it's important to keep taking to a social person, and to keep them talking.

                  Putting them on hold, reinforcing the idea that no one cares for them, is a bad idea.

                  Now, if the suicide prevention number is free and you can transfer them quickly, sure, it's no problem. But if there's a backlog, then you're faced as a dispatcher with the unenviable choice is abandoning this person in their time of need, and quite possibly letting them die, or letting other emergencies pile up.

                  9-1-1 already allows contact with three distinct groups: police, fire, and ambulance. The same goes for 112. That must have been intentional.

                  Sure, but all of those are dispatch calls. You get the person on the line, get their location, figure out their problem, send the appropriate service to help them, take the next call. With any call centre, you want your calls to be of a similar length, so that you can determine how many people you need answering calls based on how many calls are coming in. Longer calls, like people in emotional distress, can really muck up the whole system.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 6:20pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Three digit suicide prevention hotline....

                    s/social/suicidal

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                  • identicon
                    Michael, 27 Aug 2019 @ 10:23am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Three digit suicide prevention hotline....

                    It is also important to note that the 911 system is specifically designed to identify where someone is and dispatch help.

                    That may actually dissuade someone from calling a suicide prevention hotline. There is a lot to consider, but these two call centers are serving a very different purpose and have some conflicting needs.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 12:07pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Three digit suicide prevention hotline....

              Please just go get better at thinking.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 7:24am

      Re: Three digit suicide prevention hotline....

      It's effort, but its not too bad. The big headache with the 800 exchanges was designing a commercial product where providers could drop in and out as the market needs. Assigning an NXX to one specific user is easier, especially if its one place taking them nationwide, local variation in call takers could add issue though.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 9:34am

      Re: Three digit suicide prevention hotline....

      how much difficulty are existing phone systems going to have in working with it?

      Probably no difficulty at all. The old DTMF switching systems have largely been replaced in North America now; almost everything is VoIP over fiber to the exchanges now.

      This means that while they need to be interoperable with the legacy systems for the last leg, the phone system can handle pretty much any number combination and route it efficiently now. We could even move away from numbers and allow alphanumeric, except that that wouldn't be backwards compatible with the legacy systems.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 10:27am

        Re: Re: Three digit suicide prevention hotline....

        Probably no difficulty at all. The old DTMF switching systems have largely been replaced in North America now

        Was DTMF ever used for switching? Wikipedia says the backends mostly went from MF (SS5) to SS7 which didn't use in-band signalling. At the frontend, DTMF was little more than an alternate encoding of pulse.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 10:39am

          Re: DTMF for switching?

          The tones used to dial trunk calls internally were on different frequencies from the "consumer" DTMF tones - and had been in existence for longer. It used to be common to dial long-distance and hear a second set of tones go out rapidly beep bip-bip-bip bip-bip-bip-bip-bi-bi-bip beep at the beginning of a toll call. This opened a rather infamous security hole in the late 60's/early 70's in which some "phone phreaks" found a 2600Hz tone would "hang up" on the trunk portion of a long-distance call (perhaps a national 1-800 number) but leave the caller in control of the trunk to make a second call (which would invariably be something more expensive, like a call to the Soviet Union). That mess largely died once electronic switching systems and out-of-band signalling came in, but there's enough history there to fill a book.

          The tones dialled by the 12-button telephone operator console from the early 1950's onward, which were at the heart of much of the "phone phreak" madness in their era, were known as MF and not DTMF as they were on different frequencies. Look up "blue box", 2600 and "phone phreak" as the whole history is preserved online somewhere - even if it's now just a historical footnote.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 1:52pm

            Re: Re: DTMF for switching?

            Look up "blue box", 2600 and "phone phreak" as the whole history is preserved online somewhere

            Also see the book Exploding the Phone by Phil Lapsley.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 10:14am

      Re: Updating systems for new area codes

      There was about half a year from the introduction of +1-833 as a freephone area code to Telus Mobility, one of the three largest carriers north of the border and incumbent in most of the west, actually letting their prepaid mobile subscribers call any numbers in that then-new area code. The calls would just fail with "you do not have a sufficient balance or calling plan" or some such nonsense.

      That's an annoyance if the number belongs to a discount or department store... but if the number is a suicide hotline? It might get called rarely, increasing the time for anyone to notice the fault, but when it is called it is needed urgently. Bad combination.

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  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 26 Aug 2019 @ 7:08am

    How about a 3 digit number to contact the FCC ?

    I propose the new FCC number be 666.

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 26 Aug 2019 @ 7:35am

    Nice apple, now about the worm...

    While this is certainly a good move and one worth praise and support, given who is involved and their past actions making crystal clear that they have no problem screwing people over I can't help but be a tad suspicious as to the motives here.

    Trying to get some good PR(for once) to help the abysmal image they've got, trying to provide cover for something they know will be unpopular... while I suppose it's theoretically possible that Pai actually did something good for the right reasons everything he's done so far in the agency leads me to suspect there's something more in play here.

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    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 Aug 2019 @ 7:51am

      Re: Nice apple, now about the worm...

      Do you mean like Pai is deeply depressed and can't remember the 11 digit suicide hotline number?

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    • identicon
      Glen, 26 Aug 2019 @ 8:09am

      Re: Nice apple, now about the worm...

      Even if the motives behind the move are in question, this is one of those times that the outcome would be desirable.

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      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 26 Aug 2019 @ 11:00am

        Re: Re: Nice apple, now about the worm...

        Oh no argument there, the goal's good and one I support, I just question why they're doing it given the agency under Pai has shown basically nothing but contempt or indifference towards the public.

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  • icon
    Berenerd (profile), 26 Aug 2019 @ 8:24am

    Me: Ajit, you finally did something right!
    Ajit: Don't worry, I will let it goto my head!
    No one:
    Ajit: Anybody want a peanut?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 9:37am

      Re:

      I think Ajit's more the Vizzini type than the Fezzik type.

      I won't say anything about whether the six-fingered man killed your father.

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  • icon
    bhull242 (profile), 26 Aug 2019 @ 8:39am

    Good on you for once, Ajit Pai

    Some might be suspicious of Pai’s motivations for this proposal, but keep in mind that even the most corrupt politicians and bureaucrats can be competent and effective at their duties when they don’t conflict with their agenda. If this impacted the telecom industry more directly or something, I’d be skeptical, but I can’t think of any lobbyists who would benefit from this proposal other than those who lobby on the behalf of the mentally ill, and I have no problem with their agenda in general, and at any rate, I don’t think that Pai is particularly beholden to them, anyways.

    If I had to think of ulterior motives, I suppose this could be part of a general attempt to shift the talks about the recent shootings to mental health treatment, but then I’m not entirely against that, anyway.

    Plus, suspicious motives or not, there’s nothing about the proposal that I can foresee as having unintended consequences, so the “why” doesn’t matter too much. It’s a good idea that just about everyone can agree with or, at a minimum, accept as essentially harmless. It makes perfect sense to have the suicide hotline be a simple 3-digit number rather than a long 11-digit number that’s not so easy to remember (wth is up with that 273?). This is something that needs to be quick and easy to dial, and ensuring that it has its own dedicated number—rather than co-opting 911—is crucial to ensuring that users are able to get a specialist quickly and talk for a long time without worrying about clogging up the lines for police, fire, or ambulance emergencies or other essential services.

    So good work, Ajit Pai. You’re doing something useful for once. For the first time, I can actually say that without being sarcastic.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 8:52am

      Re: Good on you for once, Ajit Pai

      I can easily think of an ulterior motive that benefits Pai's benefactors.

      Telecoms everywhere will lobby for subsidies to help pay for implementation of systems to support the new 988 number. Then they'll use a fraction of that money to poorly implement those systems, probably months behind schedule. Then they'll start charging a grossly inflated "988 support fee" to all of their customers under the guise of passing on the costs of continued support.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 9:39am

        Re: 988?

        The usual pattern in these "easily-recognisable area codes" is that NPA's with the last two digits the same, 8YY-style, tend to be merely overlays of the same-pattern number which had the last two digits as x00 - so 888 overlays 1-800, as does 877, 866, 855, 844, 833...

        By that pattern, 666 overlays 1-600 (which Satan likely didn't want, as 1-600 is Canada, a wretchedly cold place, and he'd rather be in Hell where it's warm).

        By that pattern, 988 overlays 1-900, home of every high-premium scam and ripoff to exploit the superstitious, the gullible and the lonely. Dare I ask what the telcos intend to charge?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 9:09am

      Re: Good on you for once, Ajit Pai

      (wth is up with that 273?)

      It's an original 800 (not 888, 877, 866, etc.) number. They're in ridiculously high demand.

      The 273 is probably because it was the only (or one of the few) phone numbers available ending in -8255.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 9:22am

        Re: 800-273-TALK?

        There are multiple numbers answered by different organisations.

        At one point the FCC took 1-800-SUICIDE, 1-800-SUICIDE and one other (which had SUICIDA en español) away from a tiny, struggling non-profit charity and gave them to the US federal government. (The only other case of FCC taking a number away from a live subscriber this way was 1-800-RED-CROSS, during Hurricane Katrina, to give it to the American Red Cross).

        And then there's the not-so-minor detail that 1-800 is shared with Canada and a bunch of small island nations. Any bonehead FCC move involving toll-free/freephone numbers (like putting a block of the 17000 most-valuable 1-833 numbers up for auction and not reserving public-safety or public-interest numbers (like 1-833-SUICIDE) to set them aside instead of selling them to the highest bidder.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 9:49am

        Re: shortage of freephone numbers

        There would be plenty of available, meaningful numbers were it not for the widespread abuse of the system. The FCC has regulations in place against the "hoarding, brokering and warehousing" of freephone numbers. It's just unwilling to enforce them.

        The Associated Press ran a damning story in 2011 or so about one marketing company in Philadelphia which owns a half-dozen captive RespOrgs (which occupy the same role in tollfree as the registrars in domain names) which it was misusing to tie up more than seven million tollfree numbers - just to park advertising for everything from overpriced directory assistance to sleazy phone sex scams on them, grabbing existing free numbers as they expire just to get the misdial traffic and monetise it. If Kim Jong Un could be persuaded to detonate a nuclear electromagnetic pulse a mile over Philly, suddenly several million numbers (the equivalent of an entire tollfree area code worth of numbers) would suddenly be available and many of the problems would go away... but not all, as this isn't the only company abusing the system. Of course, if the FCC were to do its job and actually enforce its own regulations, it would have an equally devastating effect or more... but the probability of that happening are lower than that of Pyongyang nuking Primetel - in other words, zero.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 8:48pm

          Re: shortage of freephone numbers

          So what happens if +1 800 JUMP-NOW turns out to be the only "true 800" that isn't already either in use or being cybersquatted by the misdial marketers? Does it get deployed as the hotline?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 9:28am

    911 is emergency dispatch/triage; I wonder why they didn't assign 811 as mental health dispatch/triage -- currently that's the mental health hotline in some places. Since suicide is generally associated with mental health, it would make sense to use the same number for initial triage, wouldn't it?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 9:32am

      Re: 811?

      In Canada, 8-1-1 reaches non-urgent medical advice (telehealth or teletriage) as a way for a patient to talk to a registered nurse before deciding whether their condition is severe enough to merit a trip to a clinic, hospital or emergency room. The use of 811 for this sort of distress call would be consistent with that application.

      In the US, 811 appears to be cable location. No idea why that has (or needs to have) a three-digit number.

      No idea if 811 exists elsewhere in country code +1. If it was a distress/emergency number anywhere, that was moved to 9-1-1.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 10:48am

        Re: Re: 811?

        In the US, 811 appears to be cable location. No idea why that has (or needs to have) a three-digit number.

        Because idiots with backhoes have done more damage to infrastructure than terrorists could ever hope to. It needs to be as simple as possible to avoid hitting stuff when digging. One memorable number across the country.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 9:57am

    What if 988-XXXX is already a valid local number?

    It's safe to say that area code +1-988 isn't already in use.

    It's not safe to say that 988-XXXX isn't a valid local number in some places that can still get a local call through as seven digits - which would be pretty much anywhere that has only one area code.

    Vermont is +1 802 (all points) and 988-XXXX is a local call in North Troy VT. Same story in Dillon MT, region +1 406 (all points) and countless other little places. 988-XXXX is just an ordinary number.

    It's already in use. Maybe someone didn't think this through?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 10:54am

      Re: What if 988-XXXX is already a valid local number?

      Those area codes might just have to implement ten-digit dialing.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 10:00am

    What about 555-5555?

    There was an aborted plan years ago to open +1-NPA-555-XXXX for information numbers (it's currently a wasteland except for the 555-1212 directory info number, and one brief attempt in Canada to park a reverse-lookup on 555-1313 or something). Usually these are just used for fictional numbers, such as calls to Ghostbusters, but in theory it does exist and some numbers were allocated to prospective subscribers (such as 555-COKE for a certain soft drink company, or a few others to local newspapers) who never were able to find a telephone company willing to actually put them into service.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 10:01am

    It's sad to watch the government try to force a technical non-solution to something that is merely a symptom, rather than try to solve the underlying issue here. I insist that the FCC address and solve the problem of suicide before they force telecoms to attempt to ameliorate its effects, when we all know that suicide prevention is impossible at scale.

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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 Aug 2019 @ 11:21am

    Why not something logical?

    911 not sure but readily transferable to appropriate
    912 police
    913 fire
    914 emergency medical
    915 suicide hotline
    916 coast guard
    917 something I forgot
    918 something else I forgot
    919 something I also forgot

    Knowing 911 as well as it is known, it would be simpler to learn some ordered progression than a whole new number.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 11:46am

      Re: Why not something logical?

      Because those area codes are assigned to:

      • 912: Savannah, GA
      • 913: Kansas City, KS
      • 914: Westchester, NY
      • 915: El Paso, TX
      • 916: Sacramento, CA
      • 917: New York City, NY
      • 918: Tulsa, OK
      • 919: Research Triangle, NC

      You can't replace any those with 3-digit emergency numbers without taking away the ability to do a local 10-digit dial in those areas (many of which are overlaid with other area codes and thus need to support 10-digit dialing).

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      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 Aug 2019 @ 11:52am

        Re: Re: Why not something logical?

        What you say makes sense, except isn't a 1 needed prior to the area code, and what happens if you stop dialing after the area code, without the leading 1? Now there may be some technical explanation but it seems to me that they could get around that, like two leading 9's making it 9911, or something.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 12:14pm

          Re: Re: Re: Why not something logical?

          isn't a 1 needed prior to the area code

          That's 11-digit (long-distance) dialing.

          10-digit is generally used in places with overlays.

          In NYC, for example, you could be dialing phone numbers with area codes (212), (332), (347), (646), (718), (917), or (929). And I don't think any of those are long-distance to each other, so they'd all be 10-digit within NYC, rather than 11.

          what happens if you stop dialing after the area code, without the leading 1?

          Reserved numbers (e.g. 911, 411, 611) aren't used for area codes. So, nothing: if the three digits you've entered are a reserved emergency number, it connects you; if they're an area code, the phone just waits for you to keep dialing the rest of the phone number (until it times out).

          it seems to me that they could get around that, like two leading 9's making it 9911, or something.

          That's possible; the 991 area code is not in use... but, then you've made the three-digit emergency number into a four-digit one (and made things confusing.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 1:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why not something logical?

            That's possible; the 991 area code is not in use... but, then you've made the three-digit emergency number into a four-digit one

            ...and broken the NANPA expansion plan. Area codes with 9 as the second digit are reserved for that.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Samuel Abram (profile), 26 Aug 2019 @ 5:41pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why not something logical?

              Interesting that the acronym is "NANPA" considering what it means in Japanese

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 6:18pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why not something logical?

                Eh. It's a local standard, not a global one (the "NA" stands for "North American"), so I don't think they care so much about every possible overseas translation.

                Now, if it translated to something in an indigenous tongue, or Spanish, or Dutch, or one of the other languages in use in the Caribbean, maybe that'd be worth worrying about. But the acronym really shouldn't come up that often in a conversation in Japanese.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 2:45pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why not something logical?

            They've done area code splits in the region I'm in, and as a result all in-region dialing needs to use a 1 before the number.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 8:30pm

              Re: Why not something logical?

              AFAIK the only places where an area code split requires 1- on a local call are NYC LA SFO and Chicago.

              There are plenty of other places where an area code split was a pretext to force callers to dial the area code on existing numbers (in the original NPA) but those are mostly ten digits, not eleven. Even that was done only because no one would want the new numbers if they were ten digits and a real number was seven digits... not that anyone wants the new area code anyway, as nothing says "serving you since Tuesday from a mobile telephone" quite like a commercial business listing its main number in the area code of the week. An established business has an established number, ie: "PEnnsylvania 6-5000" is going to be true +1-212 and not 646 or some such rubbish.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 26 Aug 2019 @ 12:00pm

    Love it..

    So, we have a national association, with persons sitting around listening to people Around the states.. That really cant do allot unless the person on the end, Tells them WHERE THE HELL THEY ARE...
    At least with 911, you have an idea of the area they are in.
    But 911 is kinda stupid also.. They have NOT improved the hardware and Abilities of the system since it was built, or NOT very much. With the Cellphones we have NOW, there is a NEED to use location DATA.. there is no PHONE BOOK anymore. A person could be anywhere in over 4000 square miles..(400= 20x20 miles.) I dont think SOME 911 even has Caller ID..And generally that dont work, unless someone registers the names.
    there is no ability to Ping the phone to use the GPS or much of the location data FROM THE PHONE... you can track it down to a Cell tower area, but that takes time.. If the cell towers were controlled by the state, it would be easier, but NOPE.

    Good luck with this folks, its going to be a hard sell.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 26 Aug 2019 @ 12:04pm

      Re: Love it..

      Think about HOW you are going to register every cellphone to Each person.
      How do you do that??
      Even if they get the Number of the person, on a national list of every number in the USA.. They cant list it to the person. They would have to also KNOW which carrier they are with, and I dont think thats Encoded in the Caller ID data.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 12:26pm

        Re: Re: Love it..

        They would have to also KNOW which carrier they are with, and I dont think thats Encoded in the Caller ID data.

        I'm pretty sure it is.

        I've looked up a couple phone numbers on Google, and it's returned the carrier. I can't imagine that 9-1-1 has less access to information than these reverse phone number lookup websites have.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 8:16pm

        Re: They would have to also KNOW which carrier they are with...

        They would have to also KNOW which carrier they are with, and I dont think that's Encoded in the Caller ID data.

        What would they do with the carrier name? Oh, this poor unfortunate soul is a T-Mobile subscriber from Montana, might as well tell them that they have nothing to live for so give up now...

        That said, lists like the ones on nanpa com, cnac ca, localcallingguide com, telcodata us and the like would likely only indicate what company originally issued the number. The subscriber can switch phone companies and, through "number portability", keep their old number even if moving from landline to mobile to VoIP to whatever. NANPA would have another, non-public database which would say which carrier they'd moved to - as without that info there'd be no way to complete a call to that number.

        In general, then, yes one would know what carrier controls the number - with the rare exception for things like mobile handsets that were unsubscribed long ago but can still dial the local 1-1-2 equivalent (and just this 9-1-1 style number). If the handset is mobile and roaming, the network might also indicate which base station (and which carrier) picked up the signal.

        If the caller is on the outside Internet somewhere, though, all bets are likely off. Finding the VoIP gateway does little to identify the general geographic location of the caller. Any dang fool can go to a site like voip ms and grab a +1 514 number, that doesn't mean they're actually part of le tout-Montréal or that they speak joual.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ECA (profile), 26 Aug 2019 @ 11:56pm

        Re: Re: Love it..

        Go for it..
        And what can you do with the address?
        It takes Time to get this info.
        Let alone have a Bot inside their phone to Really know Where they are.
        AND give these company/agency the rights to Demand the info instantly?? NOPE.
        Try this for an accident. a Person stuck in a ditch, and cant be seen, the Spouse reports the person missing...
        What are the Odds that they can find the person within 20 miles??
        They Should be able to do it..But I will bet it will take 2 days to get thru the court and get it sent to the proper Phone corps. To Ring/track the phone to 1-2 cell towers(I hope its 2)..
        Try it as an experiment. See how long it would take, Go ask the STATE AG if you can do a test to see response time.
        Then go setup a phone in a State park..

        Did you folks ever hear about the person that worked with Gizmodo?? Died while coming back to LA from seattle.. Tried to go over a Fire road to cross the Mountains to the coast in S.Oregon...Had a flat. And no signal..Didnt stick to the road to walk out...His family survived.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2019 @ 7:23am

          Re: Re: Re: Love it..

          ...Uh-huh.

          This discussion is on 9-1-1, and the new 9-8-8 number for people in emotional distress.

          I don't know why you're diverting into a discussion on missing persons.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 12:36pm

      Re: Love it..

      So, we have a national association, with persons sitting around listening to people Around the states.. That really cant do allot unless the person on the end, Tells them WHERE THE HELL THEY ARE.

      If you're just talking someone down, that doesn't really require location information.

      They have NOT improved the hardware and Abilities of the system since it was built, or NOT very much. With the Cellphones we have NOW, there is a NEED to use location DATA.. there is no PHONE BOOK anymore. A person could be anywhere in over 4000 square miles..(400= 20x20 miles.) I dont think SOME 911 even has Caller ID..And generally that dont work, unless someone registers the names.
      there is no ability to Ping the phone to use the GPS or much of the location data FROM THE PHONE... you can track it down to a Cell tower area, but that takes time

      Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with E-911, specifically the section under Location transmission -> Wireless transmission. They absolutely can use the GPS information from your phone.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 1:04pm

    Saven one (on) one

    711

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 26 Aug 2019 @ 2:20pm

    How about

    Enter three digits and hit #. All 1000 numbers are available now! No problems with any area codes, since # is not a valid number anywhere in the world.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2019 @ 8:24pm

      Re: How about 1000# ?

      The # might already mean something on a mobile telephone. It doesn't exist at all (so can't be used) on a pulse-dial or rotary phone. It is likely to be used as the equivalent of the <enter> key on VoIP.

      It's probably vacant on DTMF landline, but not necessarily anywhere else.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 12:48am

      Re: How about

      1 is designated long distance..
      And if you do 0 first number its international.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2019 @ 11:25am

    The FCC just put 17000 numbers in 1-833 on the auction block Link - basically everything that got two or more requests when the code launched back in May 2017 or so. For some reason, the FCC considered setting aside public-interest/public-safety numbers like 1-833-SUICIDE but expressly chose not to do so.

    Instead of trying to create 988 as a distress number (which will cause issues in lots of little places where 988-XXXX is still a local seven-digit call to an ordinary subscriber), Ajit Pai should intervene to fix this mistake and set 833-SUICIDE, 833-SUICIDA and the like aside for local public safety use. As the auction looks to be scheduled for this December, he needs to fix his mistake - now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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