On June 18, Massachusetts residents were left without an operating 911 emergency system for two hours.
At approximately 1:15 pm on Thursday, Massachusetts State 911 Department became aware of a statewide interruption to the 911 system. Residents across the state were notified via the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and urged to call local law enforcement departments directly if services were needed. The disruption lasted approximately two hours until operation was fully restored at 3:15 pm.
According to a press release from the state, although some calls may not have gone through, the 911 system allowed dispatchers to identify the phone number of callers and return those calls. Thankfully, the department has not received any reports of emergencies impacted during the interruption.
The Massachusetts disruption caused confusion in other northeastern states, where some residents also got notifications on their phones. But authorities in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York and Vermont all said their systems were operational.
While many folks took to social media to make comparisons to The Purge, the actual explanation is based more in reality than fan fiction.
The State 911 Department moved immediately got to work to identify and alleviate the outage, addressing the technical issue with its 911 vendor Comtech. A preliminary investigation conducted by the State 911 Department and Comtech determined that the outage was the result of a firewall, a safety feature that provides protection against cyberattacks and hacking.

The firewall prevented calls from getting to the 911 dispatch centers also known as Public Safety Answer Points (PSAPs). Comtech’s initial review of the incident has confirmed that the interruption was not the result of a cyberattack or hack, however, the exact reason the firewall stopped calls from reaching dispatch centers remains under review.
The Massachusetts State 911 Department is deeply committed to providing reliable, state-of-the-art 911 services to all Massachusetts residents and visitors in an emergency. The Department will take all necessary steps to prevent a future occurrence. We are grateful to everyone for their patience and cooperation during the outage.
Executive Director of the State 911 Department Frank Pozniak.
As the full review of the cause continues, Comtech has advised State 911 that they have applied a technical solution to ensure that this does not happen again.

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