Chapter 87: Enhanced 911; Emergency Services
§ 7051. Definitions
As used in this chapter:
(1) "Automatic location identification" or "ALI" means the system capability to identify automatically the geographical location of the electronic device being used by the caller to summon assistance and to provide that location information to an appropriate device located at any public safety answering point for the purpose of sending emergency assistance.
(2) ALI "database" means a derivative, verified set of records which contain at a minimum a telephone number and location identification for each unique building or publicly used facility within a defined geographic area in Vermont.
(3) "Automatic number identification" or "ANI" means the system capability to identify automatically the calling telephone number and to provide a display of that number at any public safety answering point.
(4) "Board" means the Vermont Enhanced 911 Board established under section 7053 of this title.
(5) "Caller" means a person or an automated device calling on behalf of a person.
(6) "Director" means the Director for statewide Enhanced 911.
(7) "Emergency call system" or "Enhanced 911 system" means a system consisting of devices with the capability to determine the location and identity of a caller that initiates communication for the purpose of summoning assistance in the case of an emergency. In most cases summoning assistance will occur when a caller dials the digits 911 on a telephone, mobile phone, or other IP-enabled service, or by a communication technology designed for the purpose of summoning assistance in the case of an emergency.
(8) "Emergency services" means fire, police, medical, and other services of an emergency nature as identified by the Board.
(9) "IP-enabled service" means a service, device, or application that makes use of Internet protocol, or IP, and which is capable of entering the digits 911 or otherwise contacting the emergency 911 system. IP-enabled service includes voiceover IP and other services, devices, or applications provided through or using wire line, cable, wireless, or satellite or other facilities.
(10) "Municipality" means any city, town, incorporated village, unorganized town, gore, grant, or other political subdivision of the State.
(11) "Other methods of locating caller" means those commercially available technologies designed to provide the location information of callers when a call is initiated to access emergency 911 services regardless of the type of device that is used.
(12) "Public safety answering point" means a facility with the capability to receive emergency calls, operated on a 24-hour basis, assigned the responsibility of receiving 911 calls and dispatching, transferring, or relaying emergency 911 calls to other public safety agencies or private safety agencies.
(13) "Selective routing" means a telecommunications switching system that enables all 911 calls originating from within a defined geographical region to be answered at a predesignated public service answering point.
(14) "Dispatchable Location" means the location information delivered to the public safety answering point with a 911 call.
(15) "Enterprise Communications Systems (ECS)" means any networked communication system serving two or more stations, or living units, within an enterprise. ECS includes circuit-switched networks, such as multi-line telephone systems or legacy ECS, IP-enabled service, and cloud-based technology.
(16) "Station" means a telephone handset, customer premise equipment (CPE), or calling device that is capable of initiating a call to 911. (Added 1993, No. 197 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 1995, No. 182 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. May 22, 1996; 2011, No. 64, § 1, eff. June 2, 2011; 2017, No. 190 (Adj. Sess.), § 24, eff. May 28, 2018.)
§ 7052. Vermont Enhanced 911 Board
(a) The Vermont Enhanced 911 Board is established to develop, implement, and supervise the operation of the statewide Enhanced 911 system.
(b) The Board shall consist of nine members: one county law enforcement officer elected by the membership of the Vermont State Sheriffs' Association; one municipal law enforcement officer elected by the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police; one official of a municipality; a firefighter; an emergency medical services provider; a Department of Public Safety representative; and three members of the public. Board members shall be appointed by the Governor to three-year terms, except that the Governor shall stagger initial appointments so that the terms of no more than four members expire during a calendar year. In appointing Board members, the Governor shall give due consideration to the different geographical regions of the State, and the need for balance between rural and urban areas. Board members shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor.
(c) Members who are not State employees or not otherwise compensated in the course of their employment shall receive per diem compensation and expense reimbursement for meetings in accordance with the provisions of 32 V.S.A. § 1010. Members who receive per diem shall receive compensation for no more than 12 meetings per year.
(d) The Governor shall annually appoint a member to serve as Board chair and a member to serve as Board vice chair. The Board shall hold at least four regular meetings a year. Meetings of the Board may be held at any time or place within Vermont upon call of the Chair or a majority of the members, after reasonable notice to the other members and shall be held at such times and places as in the judgment of the Board will best serve the convenience of all parties in interest. The Board shall adopt rules and procedures with respect to the conduct of its meetings and other affairs. Membership on the Board does not constitute the holding of an office for any purpose, and members of the Board shall not be required to take and file oaths of office before serving on the Board. A member of the Board shall not be disqualified from holding any public office or employment, and shall not forfeit any office or employment, by reason of their appointment to the Board, notwithstanding any statute, ordinance, or charter to the contrary.
(e) The Board shall appoint, subject to the approval of the Governor, the Executive Director who shall hold office at the pleasure of the Board. He or she shall perform such duties as may be assigned by the Board. The Executive Director is entitled to compensation, as established by law, and reimbursement for the expenses within the amounts available by appropriation. The Executive Director may, with the approval of the Board, hire employees, agents, and consultants and prescribe their duties. (Added 1993, No. 197 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2009, No. 4, § 99, eff. April 29, 2009.)
§ 7053. Board; responsibilities and powers
(a) The Board shall be the single governmental agency responsible for statewide Enhanced 911. To the extent feasible, the Board shall consult with the Agency of Human Services, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Public Service, and local community service providers on the development of policies, system design, standards, and procedures. The Board shall develop designs, standards, and procedures and shall adopt rules on the following:
(1) The technical and operational standards for public safety answering points.
(2) The system database standards and procedures for developing and maintaining the database. The system database shall be the property of the Board.
(3) Statewide, locatable means of identifying customer location, such as addressing, geo-coding, or other methods of locating the caller.
(4) Standards and procedures to ensure system and database security.
(e) The Board is authorized:
(1) to make or cause to be made studies of any aspect of the Enhanced 911 system, including service, operations, training, database development, and public awareness;
(2) to accept and use in the name of the State, subject to review and approval by the Joint Fiscal Committee, any and all donations or grants, both real and personal, from any governmental unit or public agency or from any institution, person, firm, or corporation, consistent with the rules established by the Board and the purpose or conditions of the donation or grant; and
(3) to exercise all powers and conduct such activities as are necessary in carrying out the Board's responsibilities in fulfilling the purposes of this chapter.
(f) The Board shall adopt such rules as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter, including, where appropriate, imposing reasonable fines or sanctions against persons that do not adhere to applicable Board rules.
(g), (h) [Repealed.] (Added 1993, No. 197 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2011, No. 64, § 1, eff. June 2, 2011.)
§ 7054. Funding
(a) The Enhanced 911 Fund is created as a special fund subject to the provisions of 32 V.S.A. chapter 7, subchapter 5. Balances in the Fund on June 30 of each year shall carry forward and shall not revert to the General Fund.
(b) The General Assembly shall annually review and approve an amount to be transferred by the universal service fiscal agent to the Enhanced 911 Fund and shall appropriate some or all of that amount for expenditures related to providing Enhanced 911 services.
(c) Into the Enhanced 911 Fund shall be deposited monies transferred from the universal service fiscal agent, any State or federal funds appropriated to the Fund by the General Assembly, any taxes specifically required by law to be deposited into the Fund, and any grants or gifts received by the State for the benefit of the Enhanced 911 system.
(d) Disbursements from the Enhanced 911 Fund shall be made by the State Treasurer on warrants drawn by the Director solely for the purposes specified in this chapter. The Director may issue such warrants pursuant to contracts or grants.
(e) Disbursements may be made for:
(1) nonrecurring costs, including establishing public safety answering points, purchasing network equipment and software, developing databases, and providing for initial training and public education;
(2) recurring costs, including network access fees and other telephone charges, software, equipment, database management and improvement, public education, ongoing training, and equipment maintenance;
(3) expenses of the Board and the Department of Public Service incurred under this chapter;
(4) costs solely attributable to statewide public safety answering point operations; and
(5) costs attributable to demonstration projects designed to enhance the delivery of emergency 911 and other emergency services.
(f) Disbursements may not be made for:
(1) personnel costs for emergency dispatch answering points;
(2) construction, purchase, renovation, or furnishings for buildings at emergency dispatch points;
(3) two-way radios; and
(4) vehicles and associated equipment. (Added 1993, No. 197 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 1999, No. 62, § 82; 2007, No. 192 (Adj. Sess.), § 6.025, eff. June 7, 2008; 2011, No. 64, § 1, eff. June 2, 2011.)
§ 7055. Telecommunications company coordination
(a) Every telecommunications company under the jurisdiction of the Public Utility Commission offering access to the public network shall make available, in accordance with rules adopted by the Public Utility Commission, the universal emergency telephone number 911 for use by the public in seeking assistance from fire, police, medical, and other emergency service providers through a public safety answering point.
(b) Every local exchange telecommunications provider shall provide the ANI and any other information required by rules adopted under section 7053 of this title to the Board, or to any administrator of the Enhanced 911 database, for purposes of maintaining the Enhanced 911 database. Each such provider shall be responsible for updating the information at a frequency specified by such rules. All persons receiving confidential information under this section, as defined by the Public Utility Commission, shall use it solely for the purposes of providing emergency 911 services, and shall not disclose such confidential information for any other purpose.
(c) Each local exchange telecommunications company, cellular company, and mobile or personal communications service company within the State shall designate a person to coordinate with and provide all relevant information to the Enhanced 911 Board and Public Utility Commission in carrying out the purposes of the chapter.
(d) Wireline and nonwire cellular carriers certificated to provide service in the State shall provide ANI signaling which identifies geographical location as well as cell site address for cellular 911 calls. Personal communications networks and any future mobile or personal communications systems shall also be required to identify the location of the caller. The telephone company shall provide ANI signaling which identifies the name of the carrier and identify the type of service as cellular, mobile, or personal communications as part of the ALI along with a screen message that advises the call answerer to verify the location of the reported emergency. Telecommunication providers of mobile wireless, IP-enabled, and other communication services which have systems with the capability to send data related to the location of the caller with the call or transmission instead of relying on location data otherwise contained in the ALI database shall provide this data with calls or transmissions for the sole purpose of enabling the emergency 911 system to locate an individual seeking emergency services. Location data shall be provided in accordance with relevant national standards for next generation 911 technology.
(e) Each local exchange telecommunications provider in the State shall file with the Public Utility Commission tariffs for each service element necessary for the provision of Enhanced 911 services. The Public Utility Commission shall review each company's proposed tariff, and shall ensure that tariffs for each necessary basic service element are effective within six months of filing. The Department of Public Service, by rule or emergency rule, may establish the basic service elements that each company must provide for in tariffs. Such tariffs must be filed with the Public Utility Commission within 60 days after the basic service elements are established by the Department of Public Service. (Added 1993, No. 197 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2011, No. 64, § 1, eff. June 2, 2011.)
§ 7056. Municipal cooperation; enhanced ANI/ALI capability
(a) Each municipality, by its legislative body, may participate in the Enhanced 911 system. Municipalities choosing to participate shall identify all building locations and other public and private locations frequented by the public and shall cooperate in the development and maintenance of the necessary databases. The Board shall work with municipalities to identify nonmonetary incentives designed to streamline and reduce the administrative burdens imposed by this requirement. Any municipality that changes its system for addresses shall ensure that the modified address system is consistent with the standards established by the Board.
(b) After the effective date of this chapter, any municipality that changes its system for addresses shall ensure that the modified address system is consistent with the standards established by the Board.
(c)-(e) [Repealed.] (Added 1993, No. 197 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 1997, No. 28, § 13, eff. May 15, 1997; 2011, No. 64, § 1, eff. June 2, 2011.)
§ 7057. Enterprise communications system
Any enterprise communications system shall provide to those end users the same level of 911 service that other end users receive and shall provide ANI signaling, station identification data, including dispatchable location, and updates to Enhanced 911 databases under rules adopted by the Board. The Board may waive the provisions of this section for any enterprise communications system, provided that in the judgment of the Board, the owner of the system is actively engaged in becoming compliant with this section, is likely to comply with this section in a reasonable amount of time, and will do so in accordance with standards and procedures adopted by the Board by rule. (Added 1993, No. 197 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2011, No. 64, § 1, eff. June 2, 2011; 2017, No. 190 (Adj. Sess.), § 25, eff. May 28, 2018.)
§ 7058. Pay telephones
Each provider or other owner or lessee of a pay station telephone shall permit a caller to dial 911 without first inserting a coin or paying any other charge. The provider or other owner or lessee shall prominently display on each notice advising callers to dial 911 in an emergency and that deposit of a coin is not required. (Added 1993, No. 197 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2011, No. 64, § 1, eff. June 2, 2011.)
§ 7059. Confidentiality of system information
(a)(1) A person shall not access, use, or disclose to any other person any individually identifiable information contained in the system database created under subdivision 7053(a)(4) of this title, including any customer or user ALI or ANI information, except in accordance with rules adopted by the Board and for the purpose of:
(A) responding to emergency calls;
(B) system maintenance and quality control under the direction of the Director;
(C) investigation, by law enforcement personnel, of false or intentionally misleading reports of incidents requiring emergency services;
(D) assisting in the implementation of a statewide emergency notification system;
(E) provision of emergency dispatch services by public safety answering points in other states that are under contract with local law enforcement and emergency response organizations; or
(F) coordinating with state and local service providers for the provision of emergency dispatch services that serve individuals with a disability, elders, and other populations with special needs.
(2) No person shall use customer ALI or ANI information to create special 911 databases for any private purpose or any public purpose unauthorized by this chapter.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, customer ALI or ANI information obtained in the course of responding to an emergency call may be included in an incident report prepared by emergency response personnel, in accordance with rules adopted by the Board.
(c) Information relating to customer name, address, and any other specific customer information collected, organized, acquired, or held by the Board, the entity operating a public safety answering point or administering the Enhanced 911 database, or emergency service provider is not public information and is exempt from disclosure under 1 V.S.A. chapter 5, subchapter 3.
(d) If a municipality has adopted conventional street addressing for Enhanced 911 addressing purposes, the municipality shall ensure that an individual who so requests will not have his or her street address and name linked in a municipal public record, but the individual shall be required to provide a mailing address. The request required by this subsection shall be in writing and shall be filed with the municipal clerk. Requests under this subsection shall be confidential. A form shall be prepared by the Board and made generally available to the public by which the confidentiality option established by this subsection may be exercised.
(e) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, no person acting on behalf of the State of Vermont or any political subdivision of the State shall require an individual to disclose his or her Enhanced 911 address, provided that the individual furnishes his or her alternative mailing address. (Added 1993, No. 197 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 1995, No. 182 (Adj. Sess.), § 11, eff. May 22, 1996; 2003, No. 59, § 44; 2011, No. 64, § 1, eff. June 2, 2011; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 193.)
§ 7060. Limitation of liability
No person shall be liable in any suit for civil damages who in good faith receives, develops, collects, or processes information for the Enhanced 911 database or develops, designs, adopts, establishes, installs, participates in, implements, maintains, or provides access to telephone, mobile, or IP-enabled service for the purpose of helping persons obtain emergency assistance in accordance with this chapter unless such action constitutes gross negligence or an intentional tort. In addition, no provider of telephone, mobile, or other IP-enabled service or a provider's respective employees, directors, officers, assigns, affiliates, or agents shall be liable for civil damages in connection with the release of customer information to any governmental entity, including any public safety answering point, as required under this chapter. (Added 1993, No. 197 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2011, No. 64, § 1, eff. June 2, 2011.)
§ 7061. Enforcement and penalties
(a) The Board may file a civil action for injunctive relief in Washington County Superior Court to enforce a provision of this chapter or a rule adopted by the Board under this chapter. The court shall award the Board its costs and reasonable attorney's fees in the event that the Board prevails in an action under this subsection.
(b) A person who violates the provisions of section 7059 of this title shall be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than $10,000.00, or both.
(c) An aggrieved individual may maintain an action in Superior Court for damages, injunctive relief, costs, and attorney's fees against any person who intentionally or with gross negligence violates any provision of, or rules adopted under, section 7059 or subsection 7055(b) of this title. (Added 1993, No. 197 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.)