Massachusetts officials reveal cause of hourslong 911 system outage

BOSTON — The Massachusetts State 911 Department has determined the cause of Tuesday’s statewide 911 system outage.

The interruption to the 911 system was first reported around 1:15 p.m. and the public was unable to place 911 calls until about 3:15 p.m. when the outage was resolved, according to Executive Director of the State 911 Department Frank Pozniak.

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 protects against cyberattacks and hacking, Pozniak announced Wednesday.

“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,” Pozniak said in a statement. “We are grateful to everyone for their patience and cooperation during the outage.”

The firewall prevented calls from getting to the 911 dispatch centers, also known as Public Safety Answer Points, according to Pozniak.

Pozniak noted that Comtech’s initial review of the incident confirmed that the interruption was not the result of a cyberattack or hack but the exact reason the firewall stopped calls from reaching dispatch centers remains under review.

Although calls may not have gone through during the outage, the 911 system did allow dispatch centers to identify the phone numbers of callers and return those calls.

The State 911 Department added that didn’t receive any reports of emergencies impacted during the interruption.

In 2023, Massachusetts’ 204 Public Safety Answering Points received a total average of 8,800 calls a day.

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