Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Vonage Problems with 911 blamed in death

Since this deals with Vonage AND my hometown (two topics near and dear to my heart), I feel compelled to post this. Harris County wants internet phones to have enhanced 911, as a result of a mother dying from a gunshot wound, and her daughter being unable to use Vonage to dial 911.

First, let me state that any time violent crime takes an innocent life it is truly a tragedy. And anything I say going forward should not be construed as me being flip or trying to assign blame on the victims.

Having said that, the article is a little unclear on what the family's Vonage account set up was. On the features screen of your Vonage account (where you set up Call Waiting, Forwarding, Voicemail, etc.) the first box bolded in red states that dialing 911 is NOT automatic and must be set up. Setting it up takes you to another bolded link which discusses the difference between Vonage's 911 service and traditional 911 dialing. Both of those things are set up in a way that they grab your attention on the screen.

While I'm not going to try and guess as to what actions the family had taken beforehand or if they realized the differences in service, I'm hard pressed to come up with an idea of what Vonage should have done differently. I'm also hard-pressed to understand how you can assign guilt to them, when the central issue is that 911 call centers are very secretive and selective (as the article states) about who they disclose information to. Also, the article doesn't state clearly whether the 10 minutes it took to place the 911 call were truly critical to the situation. Finally, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the real criminals here are the gunmen, and not the phone company. I would argue that more effort should be placed on finding these criminals, as that is a higher priority.

This is an issue that Vonage has been working on since before I became a subscriber. In fact, when we signed up there was absolutely NO 911 service in our area, and we were told so during the sign-up process. The fact that they've managed to put limited service in place is proof that they're trying to do the right thing here.

Still, the article is a good reminder to test 911 service when you get a VoIP phone setup. via [slashdot]

Technorati Tags: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home