Risk analysis of the 9-1-1 system using failure mode, effects, and criticality analysis (FMECA)

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Virginia Tech

More than twenty-five percent of the risk of failure for the 9-1-1 system can be contributed to blocked lines. The second major failure mode is unhelpful or improperly trained telecommunicators. The quick dispatch of emergency response teams in the event of any disaster or accident through the use of the 9-1-1 system is crucial to the well-being of the public. These potential failure modes prevent desperately awaited help from arriving as soon as possible. Therefore, the reliability and effectiveness of the system must be evaluated.

The objective of this report is to identify failure modes of the 9-1-1 system, calculate their criticality, prioritize them in order of risk, and propose economical and feasible alternative solutions.

Failure mode, effects, and criticality analysis (FMECA) is an evaluation tool that proves extremely useful when a system is desired to be kept highly effective and reliable. In this report, it is applied within the Systems Engineering Process to analyze areas of weakness throughout the New Jersey 9-1-1 system. FMECA is widely used throughout the military and commercial industry. It illustrates the interrelationships between causes and effects of failure modes, and helps to focus attention on high risk areas so that proper precautions may be taken.

First, the use of FMECA is reviewed. The step-by-step procedures are next illustrated, and it is noted that FMECA must be tailored to each system relative to its characteristics and desired application. The New Jersey 9-1-1 system is analyzed in detail and is found to be an effective emergency communications network. However, technology has not yet provided solutions to all possible failures. In fact, technology adds to the failure possibilities. Possible future areas of development are included.

systems engineering, failure mode effects and criticality analysis, 9-1-1 system, FMECA, risk analysis