Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 239 - 911 - NANP North American Numbering Plan

Kathy Phy Photographer
I am going to post the history of how we have come to use 911 as our Emergency Dial number.  After talking with our foreign exchange students, I have been told that in Europe, they have different numbers for different emergencies.  These are not the real numbers but to get the idea of what I'm talking about: 911 Crime Police Emergency, 611 - Fire, 711 - Paramedic Emergency, etc.  Now as Americans, this would be a great idea, specify the emergency.  The attackers were sending a message on that day for us because they were CAUSING the terror and the emergency on the day represented by the numerical format of 9/11.  And it was found that when reviewing Osama Bin Laden's computer data that he had planned another terrorist attack on the tenth anniversary, 9/11/11.  I can't help but think that (You'll have to reference my posting about angels in order to understand this) George and his army of angels were protecting America ten years later with the 1111 as part of the date.

From Wikipedia...


9-1-1 is the emergency telephone number for the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). It is one of eight N11 codes.  The use of this number is for emergency circumstances only, and to use it for any other purpose (including non-emergency situations and prank calls) can be a crime.

An N11 code or N11 number (said as "N-one-one") is a special abbreviated dialing telephone number within the North American Numbering Plan, which allows access to special services. Each of these eight numbers prevents 10,000 telephone numbers (from N11-0000 to N11-9999) from being used. Only non-geographic area codes, such as toll-free 800/888/877/866/855 numbers and 900 numbers may use N11 as the telephone exchange prefix, since the area code must always be dialed for these numbers.
Usage is generally assigned as follows:
  • 2-1-1: community services, United Way
  • 3-1-1: municipal government services, non-emergency
  • 4-1-1: directory assistance
  • 5-1-1: traffic information or police non-emergency services
  • 6-1-1: telephone company (telco) customer service and repair
  • 7-1-1: TDD relay for the deaf
  • 8-1-1: underground public utility location, in Canada 8-1-1 is assigned for non-emergency health information and services
  • 9-1-1: emergency services
In 1968, a solution was agreed upon. AT&T chose to implement the concept, but with its unique emergency number, 9-1-1, which was brief, easy to remember, dialed easily, and worked well with the phone systems in place at the time. How the number 9-1-1 itself was decided upon is not well known and is subject to much speculation by the general public. However, many assert that the number 9-1-1 was chosen to be similar to the numbers 2-1-1 (long distance), 4-1-1 ("information" or directory assistance), and 6-1-1 (repair service), which had already been in use by AT&T since the 1920s.

Another consideration is that most phones of the time used the pulse dialing system, which could be misdirected if the dial did not spin freely, either from sticky mechanism or a user keeping the finger in the dial. Using 9-1-1 forced the user to remove the dialing finger after the first number (whether using pulse or DTMF dialing) and go to the opposite end of the dial or keypad, thus reducing both accidental failure to dial the number and accidental dialing of the emergency number. Accidental dialing of 9-1-1 has become an increasing problem, as an increasing number of cellular phones are carried in pockets, purses or other places where objects may rest against the keys and repeatedly press them.

PASP Dispatch
Not all such N11 numbers are common throughout the telephone systems of North America. Some of the designated services provided by these numbers are regional, and there are significant differences in number allocation between Canada and the United States; only 4-1-1 and 9-1-1 are universally used. In addition, because it was important to ensure that the emergency number was not dialed accidentally, 9-1-1 made sense because the numbers "9" and "1" were on opposite ends of a phone's rotary dial. Furthermore, the North American Numbering Plan in use at the time established rules for which numbers could be used for area codes and exchanges. At the time, the middle digit of an area code had to be either a 0 or 1, and the first two digits of an exchange could not be a 1. At the telephone switching station, the second dialed digit was used to determine if the number was long distance or local. If the number had a 0 or 1 as the second digit, it was long distance, if it had any other digit, it was a local call. Thus, since the number 9-1-1 was detected by the switching equipment as a special number, it could be routed appropriately. Also, since 9-1-1 was a unique number, never having been used as an area code or service code (although at one point GTE used test numbers such as 11911), it could fit into the existent phone system easily. AT&T announced the selection of 9-1-1 as their choice of the three-digit emergency number at a press conference in the Washington (DC) office of Indiana Rep. J. Edward Roush, who had championed Congressional support of a single emergency number.

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