Survey Finds Many PSAPs Experience Downtime (12/11/12)
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 | Comments

A vendor-sponsored survey found that 72 percent of public-safety answering points (PSAPs) serving populations of more than 80,000 citizens experienced downtime in the past year, 50 percent had two to four outages, and 11 percent had more than five. PSAPs in communities of less than 80,000 fared somewhat better, with six out of 10 suffering downtime at least once in the past year.

Stratus Technologies, a provider of products to protect critical applications from system downtime, conducted the survey of 390 PSAP professionals in October. Respondents identified themselves according to job responsibility, size of population served and geographic entity. Town/city and county officials accounted for 83 percent of respondents.

In addition to the number of incidents, respondents reported on the duration of downtime per incident. Fifty-seven percent of outages lasted at least 15 minutes, and 26 percent stretched beyond an hour. One hour of downtime could potentially affect six 9-1-1 calls at a PSAP handling 50,000 calls annually, or 29 calls at an annual volume of 250,000. The number of calls affected could be higher or lower at various times of day.

Asked about their preparedness for natural disasters or catastrophic outages, 29 percent of respondents said they had no formal disaster recovery/contingency plan or did not know if a plan existed. Another 25 percent of respondents said they did not have or were uncertain about a backup location for restarting dispatch operations in the event of a primary-site failure.

“First responders need to know that every time a call comes in they’ll have the correct information, the most direct routing, and all the details they need to handle the incident whether it’s a break-in, a heart attack or a house fire,” said Dave LeClair, Stratus director of product management and marketing. “PSAPs deal with emergencies 24/7. Server downtime should not be one of them. If the server is down even for a few minutes, it affects everyone’s ability to do their job, to protect the community and to save lives.”

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