MCP Insights

How to Protect Your Siren System from Hackers

Posted by Brian Malinich on Aug 13, 2018 9:30:20 AM

Emergency siren systems respond in various ways based on the type of activation tone that is transmitted. The tones correspond to the type of event that has occurred. Sometimes they will sound in a continuous burst for a predetermined length of time, other times they will sound in a series of short bursts, and for the most severe events they might emit prerecorded audio that contains critical instructions, for instance evacuation orders in the event of a wildfire.

In April 2017, someone hacked into the emergency weather siren system operated by the city of Dallas. The sirens are intended to warn citizens of weather events so serious that they should take immediate cover. Most of the time the sirens are used to warn of tornadoes, which are quite common in the region in the spring. On this night, the hacker reportedly unleashed all 156 sirens in the system simultaneously. Some media reports indicated that they blared for about 90 minutes, while others indicated that they sounded more than a dozen times for 90-second intervals. Regardless, the hack spawned quite a bit of panic. It also generated a lot of questions from government officials, the media and citizens.

Last month, sirens went off in Genesee County, Michigan, without any emergency to justify turning them on. Reportedly, this was the third time the sirens were activated in a month without apparent cause, and county public safety officials believe that the system was hacked each time.

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Topics: Operations, Public Safety Technology

911’s 50th Anniversary Wish List: Advanced Mobile Location

Posted by Dave Sehnert on Feb 16, 2018 3:45:00 PM

Three weeks ago, my colleague, John Chiaramonte, made an impassioned plea to the four major wireless carriers. He asked them to serve the critical needs of the 911 sector and all those who dial those digits in their time of greatest need by turning on Advanced Mobile Location (AML)—now.  Today, on the 50th Anniversary of 911, I am delighted to write about an alternate solution to getting life-saving enhanced location technology into the hands of the telecommunicator.

Yesterday afternoon, RapidSOS released the results from its NG911 Clearinghouse Android Emergency Location Services (ELS) Pilot Project held last month in three jurisdictions across the United States: Collier County, Florida, North Central Texas, and Loudon County, Tennessee.  Each represents a variety of topography and population, as well as integration with an assortment of existing public safety answering point (PSAP) software.

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Topics: Next Generation 911, Network Evolution, Public Safety Technology, 911 Anniversary

911’s History is Gratifying, but its Future is Thrilling

Posted by Glenn Bischoff on Feb 12, 2018 3:00:00 PM

Considering that our planet is about 4.5 billion years old, a 50-year slice doesn’t seem all that significant—until one considers the amazing progress that can be achieved in such a timeframe. Take aviation for instance. On December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, N.C., Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first flight of a powered aircraft; the voyage lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet. By the early 1950s, jets were traversing the Atlantic Ocean on a regular basis, and soon after the first non-stop flight to Australia occurred.

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Topics: Next Generation 911, Public Safety Technology, 911, 911 Anniversary

Shooting Death Underscores Urgent Need for Action on Swatting Incidents

Posted by John Chiaramonte on Jan 8, 2018 4:00:00 PM

Swatting, the practice of falsely reporting an emergency to elicit a response from a police department’s special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team, is not a new phenomenon for the 911 community.

What is new is that a death has occurred as a result of a swatting incident.

On December 28, 2017, a dispute between online gamers turned ugly. Media reports say that one group, seeking retribution for some perceived wrongdoing, contacted a known swatter in Los Angeles and convinced him to act on their behalf. The swatter placed a call, spoofing his telephone number, to an administrative line at city hall in Wichita, Kansas, and a security guard transferred the call to 911. The caller told the 911 telecommunicator that he had shot his father in the head, was holding his mother and sister at gunpoint, had doused the house with gasoline, and was contemplating setting the building ablaze.

The telecommunicator dispatched a police response to the address provided by the caller. When police arrived, a 27-year-old man answered the door, and immediately was told to raise his hands and walk toward the officers. Regrettably, he lowered his hands to his waist, and an officer found the action threatening enough to fire a single shot at the man, killing him.

When one stops to mull this for a moment, especially considering the type of response that is dispatched to such incidents, it seems amazing that a swatting death has not happened before.

As if this event wasn’t tragic enough, the man had nothing to do with the online gaming dispute. In fact, he reportedly wasn’t a gamer at all—the swatter had provided a wrong address for the actual swatting target.

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Topics: Industry News, Operations, Public Safety Technology

A Look Back at 2017's Most Read Stories on MCP Insights

Posted by Morgan Sava on Dec 21, 2017 9:00:00 AM

This past year, we launched an online repository of articles called MCP Insights. Our vision was to create a destination for public safety communications and government leaders to expand their knowledge, stay abreast of emerging trends within the industry and hear about new ideas that will help to advance the industry and ultimately, improve emergency response outcomes.

This article features the most shared posts among our readership this past year. Read on to learn more, and while you’re at it, subscribe to receive notifications when a new MCP Insight is released.

A Massive Outage that Affected PSAPs Across the US

In March 2017, an extensive outage impacted 911 service in a number of states. It revealed the need for increased communication among service providers during outages and similar incidents, but it also reminded us that PSAPs should take proactive steps to soften the impacts of unpredictable outages, beginning with an extensive refresh and review of their policies and procedures, as well as testing.

“Sunny-day” outages, like the one that occurred in March, is just another example of why the public safety communications sector needs to push forward with Next Generation 911 (NG911).

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Topics: Industry News, Public Safety Technology

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MCP Insights by Mission Critical Partners is the online destination for public safety leaders to expand their knowledge, stay abreast of trends, and discover innovative ideas to help implement change that will advance the industry... Because the mission matters.

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