Saturday, September 08, 2007

Does Telus have blood on his hands?

Those of us fortunate enough to be able to pay Telus phone bills will probably have noticed this on their regular phone bill:

.13 per month for 911 service
Now, this might not look like a lot of money to anyone, but if you multiply this by the amount of customers Telus has ($10.8 million customers), and multiply it again by 12 (1 year) then we can all agree that $16.848.000 (almost $17 million dollars, year after year) is a substantial amount of money, good enough to keep this important service in perfect shape, right?

Not so:
Greater Victoria's 911 system suffered a "database failure" the day of the quadruple murder-suicide in a posh Victoria suburb and rerouted a call from a screaming woman inside the home to the wrong dispatch centre.

A 911 call in any of the area's 13 municipalities is supposed to be routed to the nearest emergency dispatch centre based on a database of numbers and addresses held by Telus.

However, a "database failure" hit the service on Sept. 3 and 4, confirmed Telus spokesman Shawn Hall.

Now, things can happen right? But you'd think with roughly $17 million dollars (yearly) to spend on a system that deals with life-and-death situations, Telus would have some sort of backup system, right?

Not so:
[The database failure] meant a 911 call from inside the home of a murder-suicide in Oak Bay was misdirected to Victoria before being eventually transferred to Saanich - which handles Oak Bay's calls. [...]

At 3:06 a.m., a woman inside called 911 screaming for help because of a fight, a fire and a knife. That call lasted one minute, said Hall.

The woman either hung up or was somehow disconnected at least once. [...]

Inside the home, officers found the bodies of four adults and a six-year-old child. The B.C. Coroners Service has declared it a murder-suicide.

This murder tragedy might have had a complete different outcome if Telus would have had a backup system that would kick in as soon some sort of system failure occurs. Given the importance of having a 100% reliable 911 system and the amount of money they pull in yearly (close to 17 million) from mandatory individual 911 contributions, there's no other conclusion to make than that Telus dropped the ball, big time. Four people dead.

- Wikipedia: Telus
- Telus: 911 call misdirected during quadruple murder-suicide

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