When the 911 system was initially implemented, cell phones and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone systems were in the far future. Phones were tied to landlines and local carriers kept a database of linked phone numbers and physical addresses, which all local Public Safety Access Points (PSAPs) could access to dispatcher emergency calls.
Cell phones were the first communications device that posed problems. While mobile devices can be located either through the device’s GPS receiver or through radiolocation the technology is still not as precise as knowing the specific address associated with the telephone number. When someone calls 911 from a mobile phone, the wireless network has to provide their coordinates to the PSAP. When E911 was first established, the FCC stipulated that networks had six minutes to give the caller’s latitude and longitude within 300 meters.
Along comes VoIP phones. Like with cell phones, the increased geographic flexibility that makes VoIP so enticing also makes a call more difficult to locate in case of an emergency. VoIP providers enable E911 by having customers set a physical address to show up when they dial 911 on their VoIP phone or device. You can update this location if you move offices or work from home. E911 works best with a single address unmistakably tied to a phone number. This worked in the early days of E911, but modern technology has far outpaced the system.
In recent years there have been numerous important developments in E911 compliance solutions for IP phone technology. The more noteworthy of these developments include:
- On-site appliances that automate and simplify E911 management for enterprise IP-PBX systems, reducing administration, and ensuring that IP phone locations are always up to date, thus helping enterprises meet their E911 obligations;
- IP phone tracking automatically assigns locations to IP hard phones, soft phones and wireless phones as they move on the corporate network using layer 2, layer 3, or wireless LAN discovery.
- Support for remote employees, allowing off-campus users and teleworkers to update their locations in real-time directly from their IP phones;
- Support for phone mobility, to ensure accurate E911 services for employees that move IP phones between locations, share line appearances between multiple devices, and log into IP phones on the fly;
- Security desk routing and notification functionalities that deliver 911 calls and custom email alerts to on-site security personnel, notifying them of the emergency and providing them with the caller’s precise location information;
- Advanced E911 call management and reporting features, such as misdial protection and call recording, to improve solution performance and administration.
- Regulations such as Kari’s Law and the Ray Baum’s Act that require access and location services for all phone systems.
On February 16, 2018, Kari’s Law was signed into federal law. Named for Kari Hunt Dunn, the law was championed by her family after she was fatally killed and her 9-year-old daughter was unable to reach emergency services because she didn’t know she had to dial “9” to reach an outside line before calling 911 at the hotel where they were staying.
There are two parts to Kari’s Law that affect businesses with multi-line telephone systems (MLTS):
- Kari’s Law requires that any MLTS allows callers to reach emergency services via 911 without the need to dial a prefix for an outside number first. All organizations using a multi-line phone system must update their phone configurations accordingly.
- Kari’s Law also requires MLTS organizations to enable notifications to on-site personnel that 911 has been dialed and from where it was dialed. These notifications can be via email, SMS/Text, messenger service or phone call. This allows on-site personnel to know there is an emergency and provide first aid and escort emergency personnel to where they are needed.
The FCC adopted a Report and Order on August 1, 2019 that specifies the above rules for Kari’s Law, and also for Section 506 of Ray Baum’s Act.
Ray Baum’s Act: Dispatchable Location
Primarily created in order to more accurately locate 9-1-1 callers, the FCC has been working to incorporate E911 into all communication systems in the country. The FCC Report and Order seeks to ensure all MLTS phones automatically provide the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) with a “dispatchable location” of the caller such as the street address, floor level, and room number which is conveyed with 911 calls so that first responders can more quickly locate the scene. In environments such as school campuses, warehouses, multi-floor buildings and hotels, it can be difficult to find the location of the person in distress. Ray Baum’s Act improves access to emergency services for anyone who dials 911.
What do Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act mean to you?
Is your aging phone system in full compliance with these regulations? Whether your organization uses a premise-based PBX, VoIP phone solution or hybrid, and especially if you have remote workers or phones that are moved from one location to another, there are several factors that might put your company at risk. Don’t risk penalties that arise after an emergency occurs. Global CTI has voice integration experts who can support your phone configurations to comply with the 911 requirements. Give us a call.