E911 speeds BART calls

BART

A new computer-based 911 call management system has cut the amount of time it takes San Francisco public transportation authorities to process calls to less than four seconds.

Using an Enhanced 911 solution from Xtend Communications Corp., the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) reduced the handling time from 24 seconds. That might not seem like much, but it's significant during emergencies, officials said.

"Xtend's system eliminated our switching solutions that were outdated and difficult to manage during time-sensitive situations," Mary Steeves, communications manager at BART, said in a statement.

BART officials process thousands of 911 calls across its 104-mile system from almost 1,000 pay phones, call boxes and private branch exchanges. Handling a call using the old system required manually transferring the call from its originating location to the central command center and then to the public safety answering point (PSAP).

Using Xtend's PC/PSAP Intelligent E911 Workstation in conjunction with the system's existing telephone network, all calls are handled at a single PSAP. Each call includes a full Automatic Number Identification and Automatic Location Identification record, which is the basis of the E911 enhancements and instantly provides operators with the information they need to respond.

The full E911 rollout nationwide, coordinated by the Federal Communications Commission, is scheduled to be complete by Dec. 31, 2005. Many state and local agencies and telecommunication companies are struggling to meet this deadline.

In the San Francisco area, the Xtend workstation also keeps track of the location and contact information of BART response employees and teams in place throughout the public transit system, according to the company.

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