DENVER (KDVR) — When a woman was killed last month in Denver, it uncovered issues with the 911 routing system.

Four 911 calls made during the last few minutes of Ma Kaing’s life were misrouted to Aurora, something that Denver 911 Director Andrew Dameron said should never happen.

“No one should dial 911 and then hear, ‘I’m sorry, I have to send you somewhere else.’ That’s a problem we’ve got to fix,” Dameron said.

All of the calls in question were made through Verizon. Dameron said the technology exists to more precisely pinpoint a caller’s location, but Verizon isn’t budging. Two other major cell service providers, T-Mobile and AT&T, are both using location-based routing. AT&T is doing so on their own, while T-Mobile is doing so after the City of Denver’s request.

Ma Kaing
Ma Kaing was shot and killed by a stray bullet on Friday, July 15. (Credit: Michelle Christiance)

Colorado is not prepared for ‘Next Generation 911’

Email exchanges between Verizon, Dameron and other officials show concerns for reliability and technological standards with location-based routing, “whether it’s a business case or a technology restraint that is preventing them from doing this on their own,” Dameron said. “So then we need to look at how we can, as public safety partners, help to alleviate some of those concerns.”

This issue is on the federal level too, through the Federal Communications Commission. They issued a public notice saying they’re exploring location-based routing as an option.

In a document obtained by the Problem Solvers, Verizon’s attorney argues against the FCC proposal, saying the company “diligently upgraded its wireless network and services to ensure compatibility with NG911 networks and interfaces.”

NG911, or “Next Generation 911,” is set to replace analog 911 infrastructure. But Colorado does not​ have a dataset robust enough for it.

Verizon did not agree to an interview with FOX31 but did send a statement: “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family in this tragic shooting. Verizon is reviewing the circumstances of this matter, which includes working with the local authorities as part of this ongoing investigation.”

There is draft legislation to redirect funds to help build a location-based routing system across Colorado.

“I think her death just highlights the urgency and the need to keep this project moving until we are able to implement a solution here in Denver and nationwide,” Dameron said. “No community should experience what her children did when they were trying to call 911.”

Verizon’s contractor told the city on Tuesday night that it has identified the tower at fault for the misrouted calls to Aurora. They are working together to get those cell sectors adjusted.

On Wednesday, the community near Kaing’s death is meeting again to get an update on these 911 issues and ask questions. That meeting will be at 1313 Xenia Street at 11 a.m.