Last October, a dozen states dealt with a swarm of ‘ghost calls’ that overwhelmed 911 switchboards and made it impossible for legitimate calls to get through. Fortunately, nobody was injured at the time, but authorities were worried that the next time this happened, people might die. And, unfortunately, in Dallas, that’s come to pass.
The Dallas Morning News has an in-depth look at the city’s problem, in which false 911 calls from T-Mobile devices flood the switchboards and make it difficult for legitimate calls to get through. So far, two people — a local man and a young toddler — have died as a result of being unable to connect to 911, and it’s not clear why, exactly, this was happening:
The ghost calls originally began in October and November. The calls originate with T-Mobile devices that have already called 911, said Deputy Police Chief Jesse Reyes. The phone numbers continued to pop up in the 911 queue even after the caller had received a response from the police or fire department. The large number of ghost calls affects all phone users, not just T-Mobile customers, because the queue is loaded up.
The spikes seem to vary in time and intensity, aren’t consistent across all T-Mobile devices, and raise a host of other questions that make it hazy as to whether this is a technical glitch, a malicious prank, or something else entirely. It’s also limited to the Dallas area, at least for now, which would indicate that if it is malicious, it’s local. But that’s cold comfort, at best, to those who’ve lost those they love.