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Worry Over VZW, Sprint Phones' 911 Alarm

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the not-so-loud dept.

Cellphones 362

[TheBORG] writes "An Austin woman who dialed 911 recently discovered what she said could be a fatal flaw in some new cell phones. She called for help when she arrived at some vacant property she owns in east Austin and found her security chain gone. She grabbed her new Verizon Wireless Casio G'zOne phone, which to her horror made an audible alarm when she called 911. Fearing vandals were still on the property, she hung up and hid, then put her hand over the earpiece and dialed again to muffle the sounds. A Verizon Wireless spokesperson says it's mandatory according to Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act. The FCC says Section 255 of the Telecommunications Code requires that phones let a caller know a 911 call is underway, but does not require an audible alarm. This thread on Howardforums.com mentions that the alarm is present on new Sprint phones too."

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362 comments

Well, duh. (2, Insightful)

NeuralAbyss (12335) | more than 6 years ago | (#21445983)

There's her problem. She's using Verizon.

Seriously.. are there /any/ mobile telcos in the US that don't suck in one way or another? I hated dealing with them for a month as a tourist, let alone for any longer period.

Re:Well, duh. (1)

jamar0303 (896820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446013)

There isn't any one perfect carrier but T-Mobile and Helio come the closest (depends on what you want- if it's freedom to use a foreign phone and great customer service go T-Mobile; if it's Korean input or the Ocean go Helio).

Re:Well, duh. (5, Insightful)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446141)

I wonder how much this really has to do with the carrier. Personally, I would think that it has more to do with the phone manufacturer. I know that my cell phone (LG Chocolate flip) makes a sound when you dial 911.

I'm pretty sure that when the phone companies make a contract with a carrier, they just slap some crappy branding all over it, and (for me on Telus anyways) disable every feature that they possibly can, then charge you to use thier "service" (ie. disabling bluetooth file transfer so that you can't put ring tones on without paying them; Making it so that mp3's you store on the memory card cannot be copied to the phone internal memory, again so that they can bend you over for $3.00 + download fee for a ring tone.) I fucking HATE Telus.

Re:Well, duh. (1)

jamar0303 (896820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446365)

Definitely the carrier. I've fooled around with the same phone here in China- it doesn't do that when 911 is dialed (stupid accident, I freaked, but then the call dropped before it fully connected- says a lot about network reliability in Shanghai, I suppose).

Re:Well, duh. (1)

Fishead (658061) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446385)

That's why after 6 years of Telus, I switched to Rogers... only to find they are the same. They just don't care about customer service. What we need is some good European style competition!

Re:Well, duh. (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446015)

Not really... either you get good rates but horrible service outside your city, or you get great service anywhere in the US (its a big country) but get charged sky high rates for simple things such as texting.

Re:Well, duh. (4, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446057)

Well, yes. Verizon is generally crap.

However, in this case, their incompetence is borderline criminal. They need to push out a mandatory firmware update that removes this behavior immediately, or issue a recall. This comes to mind as being *extremely* dangerous.

Re:Well, duh. (1)

NeuralAbyss (12335) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446117)

Absolutely. You've just got to wonder what sort of idiot did the requirements analysis for this sort of functionality.

I mean, sure, companies try to cover their arse from the FCC.. but wouldn't an ordinary person think "hang on.. we might be sued if the alarm goes off when a violent intruder hears a customer calling 911!"? I'd go as far to say it's beyond borderline criminal, it's outright malicious.

Re:Well, duh. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21446397)

Unfortunately it would be criminal to remove it, thanks to Congress.

Now the article says the FCC doesn't require a loud tone, which is technically true. Unfortunately the Telecommunications Act DOES require a loud noise of some type, so that blind people are aware that they've dialed 911.

This is a mandated "accessibility" feature. The FCC says they're free to remove the "alarm" but at best they could replace it with a loud voice announcing "you're calling 911!" which I don't think would help.

In this case Congress deserves the blame for passing a law without thinking of the consequences. They demanded that all phones make it clear to blind people that they had dialed 911, and the only way to do that on phones without a Braille interface is a loud noise of some form. No matter what the FCC says about the alarm not being "required," some form of loud noise IS required.

Re:Well, duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21446335)

Nope. They all suck. Mobile service, as well as mobile phones, in the States are overpriced and absolute garbage.

The only use I have for a mobile phone is in the case of an emergency. Not a single carrier in the States offers a reasonably-priced service plan for individuals like myself (reasonably-priced means: minimal monthly fee ($5-8/month) with either 60 free minutes a month or 0 free minutes + pay-per-minute).

It's amazing how many times a month I'm told "wow, you don't own a cell phone?!", as if the concept of not owning a mobile is foreign or downright evil. Apparently the "call my house, leave a message if I'm not home and I'll return your call" concept is already considered ancient. What an impatient world we now live in...

Re:Well, duh. (1)

jamar0303 (896820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446389)

Yep- in Japan I can have a $8/month no-contract plan with unlimited M2M and a per-half-minute rate for other phones (nice for those really short calls). It's called the "White Plan" by Softbank. I always wonder why no American carrier offers something like it.

Re:Well, duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21446441)

T-Mobile is the best in the US. I think it's mainly due to the fact that they aren't tied to a line based service like all the other providers. They can be more flexible and progressive, as they don;t have to worry about maintaining a legacy service.

Thanksgiving wishes for our UK slashdotters (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21445987)

Thanks for giving us our own country.

Now get the fuck off our lawn. Righty-oh, good chaps.

Wearing red uniforms during a highly forested war: considered harmful

Re:Thanksgiving wishes for our UK slashdotters (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446155)

You are welcome to it.

Re:Thanksgiving wishes for our UK slashdotters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21446237)

As a great Canadian Comic once said in his infamours apolgy to America speech;

'I am sorry that we burned down you white house, in that sily war! we are glad you are enjoying the new one.'

Re:Thanksgiving wishes for our UK slashdotters (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21446327)

Now get the fuck off our lawn

Not a problem, I stopped using your lawn when you started
fingerprinting visitors.

Enjoy the turkey (but try to limit it to 2 or 3 big boy).

In a closet! (2, Funny)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446003)

Very practical, when you're hidden in a closet because a criminal comes in with a weapon... I'm sure he won't mind you witness his crime.

Re:In a closet! (1)

Felix Da Rat (93827) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446089)

You're looking at it wrong.

What do you think is more interesting for a police officer to talk to his buddies about, murder, or a theft? Why if this gets wide spread, we might have so many cops dealing with assaults and murders that they'll finally stop patrolling the interstates. It's Win-Win!

Very Dangerous (4, Interesting)

fixer007 (851350) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446007)

What if she had been in a bank or restaurant that was being held up? The alarm would alert the theives and the person could easily be put in danger.
I know a woman this happened to, she was behind the counter when theives broke into a bar to rob it. She hid behind the counter and called 911. If she had this phone, she would most likely be dead.

Re:Very Dangerous (0)

Jennifer York (1021509) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446169)

I'm sure the people who designed this feature were bright enough to consider how it might be used, and when. I suspect that there is a great body of evidence showing that attracting attention to a bad situation is a very good strategy: scream for help, wave your arms, sound an alarm. These strategies are effective in a great majority of cases.

Rape whistles, burglar alarms, car alarms, etc. all are meant to draw attention and induce the villain to leave the area.

Re:Very Dangerous (3, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446227)

I'm sure the people who designed this feature were bright enough to consider how it might be used, and when.

Hello. I work for and with "those people". And no, they're not bright enough. I mean the people who actually make the decisions really, really aren't. They may ask their lawyers whether they're more likely to be sued for not doing it than for doing it, but they won't take you or my best interests into consideration for one second. Really, they won't.

Re:Very Dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21446399)

I'm sure the people who designed this feature were bright enough to consider how it might be used, and when.

Apparently you haven't much experience with using cell phones, where it's obviously "design by checklist."

Already happened (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21446427)

This has already happened [findarticles.com] to Esther Green, wife of New York Jet Victor Green. She was carjacked and kidnapped along with her 11-month old baby in 1999. While the carjacker was driving them God-knows-where, Green discreetly reached into the diaper bag and SILENTLY dialed 911, while continuing to engage the kidnapper in conversation. A smart 911 dispatcher listened in and figured out what was going on and sent a cop, using information Green provided in her conversation.

With an audible alarm, Green and her baby would very likely have been dead.

911 Abuse (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21446021)

Maybe the first thing she should do is put the non-emergency police number on her phone so she doesn't have to tie up an emergency line with this bs. Does she call 911 when her house creaks at night? Sheesh.

Re:911 Abuse (-1, Flamebait)

westcoast philly (991705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446041)

oh get over yourself, you self-righteous prick. 911 is for any type of emergency. If you feel you're in danger, as she did... How is she supposed to know if people are still in the house? F**king whiny AC b*tch.

Re:911 Abuse (5, Interesting)

dattaway (3088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446049)

Maybe the first thing she should do is put the non-emergency police number on her phone so she doesn't have to tie up an emergency line with this bs.

We have the non-emergency police number programmed, just because we want to talk to a real officer and not put on hold to talk with some dumb 911 operator who makes us repeat our address 10 times and other dumb questions. We had a house burn down in front of ours, because it took 911 over 15 minutes to answer. I could have walked to the fire station quicker. We then discovered the non-emergency number and can get an officer here less than a minute any time. Its a real pleasure to talk with a real officer who has a clue what I need help with too. 911 operators don't have that quality.

Re:911 Abuse (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446145)

Sometimes I think 911 operators moonlight as cell phone customer service people. Or maybe it's the other way around. Seriously though, a lot depends upon where you are. If your local 911 service is provided by the city you'll probably be ok, since they'll know the cops (some of them probably are local cops.) A lot of this 911 stuff is done under contract to private companies, I understand, and that can be a problem when you get a clueless type on the line. Does anyone know there are any towns that are outsourcing 911 to India yet?

Re:911 Abuse (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446147)

In Spain they set up an alternative number that concentrates all alarm calls and distributes them to the different services.

The problem was that most people didn't know exactly who to call in an emergency situation. For example, you see a river overflowing while traveling by train and unsure if you're already in the next state. Or, you see a gang burning down a bank while there's two people bleeding to death in the street.

is it that bad? (1)

Errtu76 (776778) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446333)

Really. I'm not an American and i'm just baffled by your statement. I get news about your health system and i'm shocked (no, i don't mean mister moore's movie - i have no idea how accurate it is). And now this. You can laugh, but the only idea about 911 we have here is what we got in the past from the tv show with that star trek dude. And that seems pretty professional.

And you're totally right about the non-emergency number by the way. Yes it was a situation for the police, but come on, returning from a holiday? It wouldn't matter if you called now or the next day! I guess it takes that long then because more people can't judge for themselves if a situation is really an emergency.

Re:is it that bad? (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446509)

You can laugh, but the only idea about 911 we have here is what we got in the past from the tv show with that star trek dude.

Generally speaking, slashdot posts and reruns of T.J. Hooker run about equal in terms of accuracy.

Re:911 Abuse (2, Interesting)

imipak (254310) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446339)

....that's LOOPY. When it's easier / quicker / better to phone the cops down the road rather than go via the official 911 / 999 / 211 service, something somewhere is profoundly fucked. (Incidental anecdote: my 97 year old grandmother lives next door to an ambulance station. In the past, when she's had a call, relatives have knocked them up - and received service from them - but they absolutely *insist* that you call 999 and jump through the official hoops at the same time (when control call them they just report "already on-scene") but it's kinda important for things like tracking response times, demand levels etc. If everyone just calls their friendly local neighbourhood cop rather than going the official route, that's a sort of catch-22...

Anyway, doesn't the FCC or whatever body regulate that sort of stuff? here in the socialist paradise of the United Kingdom we have pretty hard and fast standards for emergency response (IIRC it's 8-12 minutes for an ambulance to be on scene, and that applies basically everywhere except isolated & sparsely populated areas like central wales or the Scottish highlands.) Wait half an hour for a reply from the cops in a life-and-death situation and you'd make the front page of the local paper, at least.

Re:911 Abuse (1)

jamar0303 (896820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446343)

OK... I think that if this is often the case then 911 is no longer serving its purpose and should be tossed and rebuilt from scratch.

Re:911 Abuse (5, Insightful)

eck011219 (851729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446105)

Hm, a woman alone on vacant property with the suspicion that there are bad people there? Yeah, you're right, there's no potential for emergency there. Honestly, sometimes I wish Slashdot didn't allow AC posts. It would solve a lot of hot wind problems like this one.

I have had several police officers in several different municipalities (even Chicago, which is quite understaffed and full of very real crime) tell me when I call the non-emergency line to call 911. They say that they would much rather respond quickly to even what seems like a minor problem so it doesn't become a major problem.

If I had mod points I'd mod you troll. I hardly ever do that, but really, you're just picking a dumb fight.

Of course, I'm the putz who bit on it ...

Re:911 Abuse (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21446311)

>Honestly, sometimes I wish Slashdot didn't allow AC posts. It would solve a lot of hot wind problems like this one.

It may not be obvious to you, but AC posts are vital to slashdot IMHO. I often post things from work AC that are about my employer, or contain relatively privileged information that I would like the community to know without being readily traceable to me. Yes they are also used for abuse, but these are quickly modded -1.

When I have mod points I specifically look for insightful or informative AC posts, as I have to post AC for some of my best comments.

Re:911 Abuse (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446181)

Fine. She should have called her local precinct or 311 or something else.

That doesn't take away from the potential dangers of an audible 911 alarm on a cell phone.

By the way, let's have a show of hands. How many of you know the number (or have it programmed into your cell phone) of the local police precinct and firehouse where you live AND where you work?

Re:911 Abuse (1)

Errtu76 (776778) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446347)

I'll skip your question because i'm European ;P and i'll add something to it. I once dated an American girl and she thought that 911 was the emergency number for everybody. No, not just everybody in the US. Everybody in the world! Well, i thought it was funny... Arrogant, and funny.

Re:911 Abuse (2, Informative)

stevey (64018) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446431)

And now the punchline ... In the UK our number is 999, but nowadays 911 works too.

I remember the rationale given that many children would see it on TV and not know it wasn't supposed to apply to them...

Re:911 Abuse (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446483)

112 makes more sense to remember though. Works almost anywhere in Europe be it mobile or landline, and from mobile phones in several other places across the world, including on any GSM phone in the USA.

In the UK you can also dial 101 for non-emergency police and local authority services.

Re:911 Abuse (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446451)

The local fire station for where I work? Who cares, let the place burn! HAHAHAHA!

Re:911 Abuse (2, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446523)

No, she did the right thing. The non-emergency numbers are for non-emergencies. One clue that you're not having an emergency is that it seems like a reasonable idea to go to the phone book and skim through a few blue-pages until you find the right number. Obviously, if you have reason to believe you might have to put yourself in physical danger to even get to the phone book, you're not having a non-emergency.

It's important not to abuse the emergency numbers, but it's also just as important not to be nervous about using them when you actually need to.

WTF? (1)

jamar0303 (896820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446065)

Who thought that putting an alarm on a phone dialing 911 was a smart idea? It's not always about alerting anyone nearby to the fact that something's wrong- sometimes you don't want anybody to notice you, like when you're home and someone's broken in. Better to err on the side of caution. Eh, glad I know of shops where I live that can get Korean phones onto the Verizon network- I don't have this issue.

E911 Location (1)

kilonad (157396) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446275)

I'm sure that whoever thought it was a smart idea thought that the primary reason people called 911 was in case of a medical emergency. E911 makes it possible to find your general location, but only to within a city block or so IIRC. A loud alarm on the phone would make it possible for them to find you even if you became unconscious. Unfortunately, it also makes you a huge target if you aren't calling for a medical emergency.

The solution to this problem is to make a separate panic alarm which is activated either manually or remotely by the 911 operator, depending on your situation. Of course, if something happened to you as the result of the operator's decision to turn it on, they'd be liable, so that leaves manual activation, and if you stay on the phone with 911, how are you supposed to activate it?

Re:E911 Location (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446351)

the other reason I can think of for an audible indication is that someone mandated that emergency calls should dial through keypad lock. Unfortunately the result of this combined with the short length of emergency numbers is to send a hell of a lot of accidental calls the emergency services way...

Re:E911 Location (1)

jamar0303 (896820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446465)

Sanyo [kddi.com] makes a phone with a manually-activated alarm (a pull string on the back). It also launches a tracking application that allows you to trace it, even when off. That's a good implementation- Verizon's is not. I wish Sprint sold this model- I think it'd be popular with overprotective parents for their kids.

Re:WTF? (1, Troll)

thejuggler (610249) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446353)

Yeah, but if someone breaks in my home when I'm home, the alarm on the phone won't matter because the last thing the intruder just heard was the shot being fired by my .357!

Re:WTF? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446491)

In the past, many phones have accidentally dialed emergency numbers. This was such a problem that they may have wanted you to know that the phone you left in your bag, pocket, whatever was making an emergency call. I used to have a Nokia that SIM/no SIM was designed to call 112[1] under any circumstances, even having the keypad locked. Lock the keypad and mash keys. It would ignore everything until it saw a 1, another 1, a 2, and dial. Stupid 'features' that supposedly forced changes to the Australian '000' [2] system.

[1] Standard GSM emergency number.
[2] Our version of 911. Probably selected because it was hard to accidentally dial it on a rotary.

Nice way to let the perps know where you are! (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446071)

" requires that phones let a caller know a 911 call is underway, but does not require an audible alarm."

So now don't bother trying to call 911 the next time there's a school massacre - you'll just be targetting yourself and earning bonus points for your Darwin Award. Fucktards strike again.

Re:Nice way to let the perps know where you are! (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446517)

No, Just dial 911 and put the phone in the pocket of the bully who had been tormenting you for years.

wrong way to eliminate accidental 911 calls (3, Insightful)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446081)

I can kind of see the point of this, with all the people who've accidentally dialed 911 while the phone was in their pocket/purse. However, I think this may be the wrong way to go about solving the problem. I don't have any evidence to back up my theory, but I suspect most accidental calls don't actually dial the full 911. I've seen several cell phones before where simply holding down the 9 key will dial 911. If that isn't an accident waiting to happen, I don't know what is. Eliminate that, and I wonder how many accidental calls will be left.

Re:wrong way to eliminate accidental 911 calls (1)

FRiC (416091) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446171)

112 is also the default emergency number for most phones / carriers, and can be dialed even if the keypad is locked.

Re:wrong way to eliminate accidental 911 calls (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446403)

In the UK I can dial 911, 112 or 999 by mistake. Well, at least I used to be able to since the iPhone doesn't react to anything other than fingerpresses.

Perhaps have it so that if you dial an emergency number with keypad locked, the phone will make an audible/vibrate notification with a few seconds delay before actually placing the call, but if it's unlocked then it doesn't on the assumption that you know damn well you're making an emergency call.

Re:wrong way to eliminate accidental 911 calls (4, Informative)

CoolVibe (11466) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446185)

In the Netherlands we have a similar service (we dial 112 instead of 911), which sometimes gets called accidentally. A human picks up the call, hears nobody on the other side, and hangs up. The caller gets an SMS that notifies him that he/she dialed 112 accidentally. Way better system.

Re:wrong way to eliminate accidental 911 calls (4, Insightful)

hjf (703092) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446369)

unless you're in a car crash and passed out just after you dialed 112. yeah, way better system.

Re:wrong way to eliminate accidental 911 calls (4, Informative)

dmatos (232892) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446391)

The way it works in NA, IIRC, is that if 911 is called and the operator doesn't hear anyone, they have to assume the worst and send fire, police and ambulance to the address of the phone (if it's a land line). Not sure how it works for cell phones.

Re:wrong way to eliminate accidental 911 calls (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446447)

In the UK I've seen a callback from the 999 operator after a call was made and they didn't hear anything (just something along the lines of "We just got a call from this phone, is everything OK?", "Yes, it must've accidentally dialed, sorry to waste your time."). Don't know what they would've done if the callback wasn't answered though.

Re:wrong way to eliminate accidental 911 calls (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446495)

I don't think it would do a damned thing to prevent accidental 911 calls.

I've dialed 911 by accident once before and it's embarrassing enough. Especially in my case because I realized what I had done rather quickly and hung up before I heard any ring or voice (I was trying to order a pizza and the number starts with 977 ... I typed 911 by mistake). Only the call did go through and when I picked up the receiver I didn't get a dial tone (or hear any voice or any noise at all .. it sounded like a dead line) so I hit the clicker a few times with no results and then I accepted the fact that it really had gone through and so I said "er.. hello?" and I heard a voice "This is the police ... why did you hang up on me?" and I had to explain that I was a complete moron and apologize etc.

I've been REALLY careful ever since. So no. An alarm going off after I've accidentally placed a call to 911 will not make it any more embarrassing. Alarm or no alarm, if you've accidentally dialed 911 before then you know it's plenty embarrassing enough to get you to be more careful in the future.

Stupid Fucking Idiots (-1, Redundant)

brxndxn (461473) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446097)

This has got to be one of the stupidest 'features' I have ever heard..

What if I call 911 because someone is breaking into my house and I'm hiding?! What if I'm being held hostage and I dial 911? What if I'm at a bank and someone is robbing it and I try to dial 911 because they haven't seen me yet?!

Also, why the fuck do phones have to beep annoyingly when you turn them off!?!?

Please sue that phone company into the ground. That is completely unwarranted.

Very good post (1)

jcookeman (843136) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446111)

This is one of the most important threads I've seen on Slashdot. It's a very good point to recognize a use of technology that could have large side effects on us. I couldn't imagine calling 911 in a situation where privacy was of dire necessity only to have the gizmo give me up. Good submission poster.

Post-call Alarm "Emergency Mode", Boston, 112. (4, Informative)

httpamphibio.us (579491) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446123)

I call 911 on a regular basis to report out of control drivers and street fights (I live in Boston, there are tons of both of these). All my Verizon phones (I've had three) go into "Emergency Mode" when you call 911 and stay in this mode for several minutes after the conversation has ended then make a loud chirp when going back into non-emergency mode.

Two semi-related notes... first, a couple months ago my battery died when I was reporting a street fight. When I checked my voicemail after it was done charging I had an irate message from a cop yelling, "DO NOT HANG UP ON THE BOSTON POLICE!" and threatening me with arrest!

Second... on Nokia candy bar phones when the keypad is locked you can key in 911 and it'll automatically come out of the locked mode. Also, 112 does the same. Can anyone tell me what 112 is?

Re:Post-call Alarm "Emergency Mode", Boston, 112. (1)

Archon-X (264195) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446133)

International Digital Emergency Number. Works on all cell phones, all counties, AFAIK. [I know it does for at least France, Hong Kong, Australia, UK..]

Re:Post-call Alarm "Emergency Mode", Boston, 112. (1)

EvilAlphonso (809413) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446149)

112 is European 911 I'd say.

Re:Post-call Alarm "Emergency Mode", Boston, 112. (1)

oberondarksoul (723118) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446153)

112 is the European emergency telephone number, alongside whichever national ones exist. For example, here in the UK both 999 and 112 will connect you to emergency services.

Re:Post-call Alarm "Emergency Mode", Boston, 112. (1)

Burps (769350) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446157)

112 is the european emergency number

Re:Post-call Alarm "Emergency Mode", Boston, 112. (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446173)

The European equivalent to 911.

Re:Post-call Alarm "Emergency Mode", Boston, 112. (5, Informative)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446233)

112 is the GSM emergency number. The GSM standard mandates that it should work no matter where you take your GSM phone.

It happens to also be European wide emergency number for all lines, landline and mobile, (though many member states have their own number, and have implemented 112 as an alias - for example, in the UK 999 is considered the emergency number; but that's not relevant here. The context is mobile phones, and 112 is the GSM mobile emergency number. It works in Europe, it works in Korea, it works in Australia, it works in the US - on GSM networks.

112 is the GSM international emergency number (4, Informative)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446183)

It is the GSM international emergency number, and the European emergency number. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1-1-2 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Post-call Alarm "Emergency Mode", Boston, 112. (1, Informative)

koekie (772138) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446217)

112 is the European "911".

Re:Post-call Alarm "Emergency Mode", Boston, 112. (1)

transmorph (86987) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446223)

112 is the emergency phone number for both Europe and GSM (it redirects to 911 in the US from a GSM mobile phone). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1-1-2 [wikipedia.org] .

I don't know if its used as a landline emergency number in any countries outside Europe (Australia doesn't - it uses 000).

Re:Post-call Alarm "Emergency Mode", Boston, 112. (1)

El Tonerino (875866) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446281)

It's 999 in Europe.

Re:Post-call Alarm "Emergency Mode", Boston, 112. (1)

gingerTabs (532664) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446287)

112 is the European equivalent of 911 that is standard across Europe. Most phones will also unlock on 999 (the UK specific number)

112 also works in the UK, even though many here would love to think we're not in Europe ;)

Re:Post-call Alarm "Emergency Mode", Boston, 112. (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446309)

Two semi-related notes... first, a couple months ago my battery died when I was reporting a street fight. When I checked my voicemail after it was done charging I had an irate message from a cop yelling, "DO NOT HANG UP ON THE BOSTON POLICE!" and threatening me with arrest!
What an idiot. Most cops are smart enough not to deliberately record it when they try to abuse their power. I would have made a copy and kept it around, never know when something like that might come in handy.

Re:Post-call Alarm "Emergency Mode", Boston, 112. (2, Funny)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446325)

Since absolutely noone mentioned it before, 112 is the european emergency number aswell as the international GSM emergency number. Glad to be able to tell you this important bit of information first!

Re:Post-call Alarm "Emergency Mode", Boston, 112. (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446501)

I call 911 on a regular basis to report out of control drivers and street fights (I live in Boston, there are tons of both of these).

Maybe in *your* part of Boston, chief. According to your domain registration, you live near both northeastern and fenway. Don't categorize the entire city just because you live in an area chock full of drunken jocks. Also, try exploring the rest of the Boston/metro area. There are so many different neighborhoods, each with a different 'feel', it's not even funny.

Two semi-related notes... first, a couple months ago my battery died when I was reporting a street fight. When I checked my voicemail after it was done charging I had an irate message from a cop yelling, "DO NOT HANG UP ON THE BOSTON POLICE!" and threatening me with arrest!

Save the voicemail and find your local district (ie the letter-number code) for where you were reporting the fight. Then go to that district's homepage and find who the CSO (community service officer) is. Write them a POLITE email or letter explaining that you were calling in a fight, got disconnected, and someone left you a very nasty voicemail. Offer to come in and play it back. If the CSO cares, they'll write it up for the captain or shift supervisor. And you might get an apology from the CSO or said shift supervisor. Believe it or not, there are people who care in BPD. Then again, that district probably spends a lot of time dealing with ]drunken] morons every night...they might be swamped, or somewhat bitter.

Can anyone tell me what 112 is?

EU/GSM emergency phone number. Heard of Google?

This is ridiculous (1)

dermoth666 (1019892) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446135)

This is totally ridiculous! That Telecomunication act should be changed to specifically forbid making any sound on 911 calls, even the usual sound some phones do on normal calls.

Any non-compilant phones shoud be upgraded or recalled as well.

I think pepole already showed enough situation (even real ones) where this would be desastrous. Just to add one, I'm always prepared to dial 911 on my phone in my pocket, so if I happen to be in trouble I can call and leave it there. I know the call and geo-location can be traced and within minutes cops will be here even if I don't speak. "Wouldl you like a 911 alarm with that?"

Re:This is ridiculous (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446289)

I agree it's a horrible idea to have on by default... But it's not completely useless. Geo-location will get you to the proper building, but an audible beeping might help people find you under rubble, or find which room you're in if you're in a smoke filled building.

But it should definitely be something that YOU choose to do, having it on by default is asking for trouble.

Were they illegal wetbacks? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21446159)

Austin has a terrible problem with illegal alien mexicans. The average mexican is mixed race tribal mongrel known as a mestizo. These primitive tribal people have no cultural tradition of respect for law or respect for property, or in general respect for others.

Not surprisingly, these tribesmen have little concept of the future or of consequences for their actions. They will kill a human being over the most trivial matters, such as a preceived slight. Despite the fact that they will be put in a cage with other animals of their kind for the rest of their lives, it matters not.

These throwbacks to a prehistoric way of life do not understand that actions have consquences. Thus they are more dangerous than most criminals. There is little logic involved in the way these primitive tribesmen behave. Give them wide berth. If you feel your life is endangered, shoot them; shoot to kill.

great (1)

kurtis25 (909650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446165)

This is not a good idea at best and more than likely a horrible idea. The standard I'm trying to call 911 in secret criticism works here. I can't watch the video in the article (youtube video anyone?) but I would imagine if I dialed 911 and heard some crazy alarm coming out of my phone I would hang my phone up and try again. I'm not sure what the alarm sounds like but if it's just some siren I would give up after a few tries thinking 911 was broken. Do we have a way to test this? I can't add or change emergency numbers in my phone and don't really want to call 911 to test my phone out.

Re:great (1)

jamar0303 (896820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446507)

I watched the video- it's not exactly ear-splitting or a siren (sounds sort of like one, though), but it's distinctive and probably about 60-70dB.

Slashdotted! (4, Funny)

Bazman (4849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446177)

Right now the US emergency services are being slashdotted by slashdotters calling 911 to see if their phones go into this mode! Go on, call 911 now and you'll hear that all the operators are busy, and would you hold while they play you some Vivaldi...

Easy solution (2, Informative)

Kohath (38547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446205)

This is another problem that can easily be solved by carrying a handgun.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21446277)

I never say this on forums, because it really doesn't make sense but i'll make an exception for you: you're an idiot.

Re:Easy solution (1)

It'sYerMam (762418) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446345)

To do what? Shoot the phone? Yourself?

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21446421)

Why is this modded funny? One creates a threat, one ends a threat (Permanently).

Thank goodness for the later.

Re:Easy solution (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446527)

I, too, praise the ability to be late! :)

Audible alarm? (5, Funny)

Forkenhoppen (16574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446207)

Does a giant exclamation mark appear over your head too?

Doh! (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446213)

This is the kind of story that shows up in Risks Digest [ncl.ac.uk] all the time - an email digest that ought to be mandatory reading for anyone involved in technological development.

Clearly the goal is to reduce bogus 911 calls that occur when a cell phone's keys get accidentally pushed, like in a purse or someone's pocket. But the first question that should have been asked is just how much of a problem are such calls? Yes, we get the occasional anecdote [google.com] of cell phones gone wild, but is it really such an overwhelming problem that it needs to be fixed at all?

Second, presuming it is so common that 'something must be done' -- then they should have come up with an escalating alarm - like say more than 5 consecutive calls to 911 or more than 10 minutes air-time connected to 911 and the phone plays a short recorded message through the phone so both parties can hear it saying that it is going to start making noise in a few more minutes unless the user - or the 911 operator on the other end - types in a short number to disarm it. Even if the user doesn't know what to do in response to the message, the 911 people will quickly become familiar with such warnings that they will know what to do. (I'm assuming that 911 operators have actual keypads at their stations, that might not be the case.)

Re:Doh! (2, Interesting)

imipak (254310) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446349)

RISKS Digest recommendation thirded with alacrity. It should be a must read for virtually everyone technical, designers, developers, architects, sysadmins,.. in fact I wish the general public read it as well, sometimes. Might set their expectations a bit more realistically when they're planning things like ID card systems, working on the assumption that computers are like the ones in Star Trek in being omniscient and virtually error-proof.

Re: Doh! (1)

An anonymous Frank (559486) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446481)

The main problem is that "every" call to 911 must be treated as a valid emergency call until/unless proven otherwise, thus tying up resources for a significant amount of time; imagine the other end of a pseudo-silent call, you're a 911 tech and you can hear odd sounds, perhaps movement yet nothing helpful; is this someone grasping for their last breath and not able to speak on the phone due to injuries?

They could be helping someone in real need instead, so it's important to avoid accidental dials/calls.

In our office space here, we're regularly asked to be careful how we dial outside calls because getting an outside line requires dialing a 9, which could be accidentally repeated, and making a long distance has you dial a 1 next; apparently there's a few calls a day from our building!

this happened in texas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21446243)

So why wasn't she carrying her pistol? I'm in a city in Iowa. When I came home and found my door open and all my lights on, I called 911 after I crept through my house with a large monkey wrench in my hand. 911 then told me to stay outside and wait for police. No thanks. If I had caught the intruder, they would have either given up and waited for the police, or been clobbered by me. Of course I would only swing in self defense, and since I would be cornering them I would consider any move by them to get away a move against myself. The police around here tend to taser or shoot everybody on a scene, then try to sort it out later. I feel safer dealing with morons myself. And my phone beeps too. A Samsung 930 with verizon. My old star tac which I miss dearly, would display "emergency call"

Advice to the carriers' lawyers: (1)

StandardCell (589682) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446245)

Do a firmware push to turn this feature off of all phones enabled with it ASAP. Someone will be in a compromised situation who needs to call 911, alert a criminal and be killed or seriously hurt because of this.

What's the Alarm? (3, Funny)

rodney dill (631059) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446283)

Danger Will Robinson, Danger

How can I tell what my phone does? (1)

bstone (145356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446331)

Is there any way to know how a particular phone/provider combination is going to work? Calling 911 to test it doesn't sound like a good idea, but knowing whether or not my phone is going to alert the burglar in my house that I'm there might be good information to have.

Re:How can I tell what my phone does? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21446409)

RTFM?

Re:How can I tell what my phone does? (1)

bstone (145356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446473)

I looked ... it doesn't mention it.

Does that mean I can sue them if it sounds an alarm and the burglar kills me?

Re:How can I tell what my phone does? (1)

FuturePastNow (836765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446425)

1) Find the most dangerous intersection in town

2) Sit there until someone gets in an accident

What audible sound? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21446387)

Funeral March?

Heh... (-1, Flamebait)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446411)

Maybe she should consider getting a gun instead of leaving the entirety of her safety up to a telephone and its ability to contact some piggies.

911 alarm ok if it is 2nd (0)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446419)

The danger of being discovered by a criminal because of this Verizon alarm is really disturbing. I would want out of my Verizon contract or , use the Casio only after using my GLOCK [tinyurl.com] so as not to endanger myself. Then tell the police, " I had no choice, I had to shoot the suspect. If I would have called 911 first, it would be me in the body bag ". A few of those incidents and I'll bet Verizon fixes the problem. Cheers

911 denial of service over next few days? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446477)

Will 911 be flooded with calls as everyone who reads this story tests their phone to find whether it makes an audible alert when 911 is being called? If I had a cellphone I'd sure as hell be testing it for this misfeature.

Wrong sound (2, Funny)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21446525)

Perhaps they could offer a new alarm tone: SHUCKSHUCK.

rj
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