Beyond 911: Other N-1-1 codes you should know

In addition to 911, there are eight other special short-code numbers.

Beyond 911: Other N-1-1 codes you should know
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The North American Numbering Plan (NANP) establishes what telephone numbers exist. It would be safe to say that most people know and understand that the short code of 911 will connect callers with police, fire or medical services in the event of an emergency. But did you know that there are seven other numbers, arguably as important?

N11 numbers, or telephone short-codes, provide callers quick and simple access to other special assistance that may be needed without tying up emergency services resources and phone lines.

Usage of these codes is established by the Federal Communications Commission based on use defined by the NANP Administrator, and is as follows:

  • 211—Community services and information 
  • 311—Municipal government services 
  • 411—Directory assistance*
  • 511—Traffic information 
  • 611—Phone company repair*
  • 711—TDD and Relay for the Deaf 
  • 811—Underground public utility location
  • 911—Emergency services (police, fire, EMS)

*Note: While 411 and 611 are reserved, they have not been officially assigned by the FCC.

Current N11 numbers reserved for special purposes

211 — Community services

Where available, 211 services provide free and confidential services that help people across North America. Questions about human trafficking, disaster assistance, food, health, housing utilities, as well as jobs and support for veterans or some of the services offered. Often 211 services are operated by the United Way of America. Visit www.211.org for information about services available in your area.

311 – Municipal government services

Many large cities have deployed 311 services in an attempt to offload non-emergency requests from citizens. Under existing networks, these calls are sent to already over-burdened 911 centers. With 311 centers, residents can inquire about anything from trash collection to reporting graffiti. For example, the Baltimore 311 center currently accepts pictures and text messages from Twitter and provides citizens with an interactive, multimedia touch point promoting good will. This level of constituent interaction makes dealing with the local government less of a hassle and an enjoyable experience.

411 – Reserved (often used for directory services)

Even though the phone company published a printed copy of the telephone book, 411 information services are often established to provide directory assistance or local information. With payphones decreasing and cellular services at the point of saturation, usage of this local service has declined. According to the current NANP, the digits 411 are RESERVED and not assigned by the FCC for any particular service. 

511 – Traffic information services

511 has been established for road and weather information as the transportation and traffic information telephone hotline. Where available, mobile and landline travelers can dial 511 for information and updates germane to their location.

611 – Reserved (local telephone company repair)

Similar to 411 services, 611 has been reserved in the NANP but not specifically assigned to a particular use. In some areas, 611 was used as a test code for linemen on the street or was used to report troubles to the central office from a subscriber. 

711 – Telephone Device for the Deaf (TDD) and relay services

Every telephone company is required to connect persons who dial 711 to a Telephone Relay Service (TRS) from a device on a working number. This rule was extended to include all VoIP telephones in July 2007 by the Federal Communications Commission.

811 – Call before you dig, mark out service

In March of 2005, the FCC established 811 as the universal number that would coordinate location services for underground public utilities. This safety measure not only helps prevents damage that interrupts telecommunications, but also the cutting of subterranean power lines, water mains and natural gas pipes.

911 – Emergencies for police, fire, medical  

Single-number access for all emergency services, including police, fire and medical.

Special consideration for PBX/MLTS Systems

Be sure that these numbers have been added to the dial plan of the PBX system in your office. Without them being specifically programmed, they may not be accessible.

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