What is E911, and Why Does it Matter for my Organization?
When a person in your organization is in an emergency situation and they dial 9-1-1, three things must occur in order for them to receive the help they need.
The caller’s location must be accurately identified.
The 9-1-1 call must be routed to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point, or PSAP. What is a PSAP? The PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) is a call center staffed with operators who receive 9-1-1 calls. The operators then dispatch the appropriate responders (police, firepersons, EMTs, etc.) to the site of the caller’s emergency.
Individuals within your organization must be made aware that an emergency is taking place, whether they are the front desk, security personnel, or administrators.
E911 is a service that was developed in order to properly FIND, ROUTE, and NOTIFY in the event of any emergency call coming from your organization.
E911 is not only a lifesaving service but is also now mandatory. Due to recent rules proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), new E911 legislation has been enacted and deadlines are rapidly approaching.
All businesses nationwide are affected and must understand what E911 is in order to become compliant with both Kari’s Law and the RAY BAUM Act. Luckily, E911 is simple to understand and implement into your business environment.
The traditional way 911 services operated was basic and relied on a caller’s ability to provide their exact location to the emergency dispatch center (or Public Safety Answering Point, PSAP).
Only after the caller provided their own location could the dispatcher send first responders to the site of emergency. This traditional way of finding individuals in emergency situations quickly became insufficient.
To illustrate, we might ask: What happens when a person cannot speak? What if a person is visiting a location, and they do not know their exact address? In these instances, if the PSAP cannot receive the caller’s location information, the individual in distress is left waiting at the time when they most need immediate assistance. That is why E911 was developed.
What is the difference between 911 and E911?
E911 simply means “Enhanced 911”. E911 works to automate and fill in the gaps left by traditional 911 services.
After a person dials 9-1-1 and is connected to an emergency operator at the PSAP (this is traditional 911 service), the operator will automatically see the caller’s telephone number and location of the device from which the caller dialed (this is E911). Also, even prior to the caller being connected to the PSAP, E911 ensures the caller is connected to the appropriate PSAP depending on the device’s location. This means that when a person dials 9-1-1, E911 works to properly route their emergency call.
To recap, while traditional 911 services can connect you to an emergency operator, or a basic relay center, you must still verbally communicate your exact location. This may result in your call being transferred to a PSAP closer to you and elongating vital time it takes for emergency responders to get to you.
E911 services first ensure you are connected to the appropriate PSAP, as well as automatically display lifesaving information such as the phone number and location of the caller. E911 works to efficiently get help to any individual in distress.
What is the risk of NOT having an E911 solution in place?
Organizations face three main problems that can cause serious delays in emergency response:
When an employee dials 9-1-1 and their exact location information is not attached, their call might be routed to an incorrect PSAP which is miles away from the site of emergency. The process of correcting a misrouted call can result in life-threatening delays of responders reaching the caller.
- Complexity of Buildings
After an employee dials 9-1-1, responders might make it to the correct address, however they may have no idea which floor or building the call came from. Often, large organizations are covered by one civic address. While the first responder arrives at 123 Main St., they will not know that the caller is in building A, floor 2, room 205. This is vital location information that efficiently guides first responders to the site of emergency.
- Communication Breakdown
If an on-site security team is not aware that an emergency call has been placed, they will lack the ability to provide further assistance to the caller. Also, responders will arrive without security being prepared to guide them to the site of emergency. Perhaps, the building requires a key card to enter specific wings of the building, or codes are needed to open a front gate, etc. Security must be alerted in order to eliminate these barriers for first responders.
These problems all come back to the ability to properly FIND, ROUTE, and NOTIFY in the event of any emergency call placed on the network. E911 solves the problem of finding emergency callers, routing the 9-1-1 call to the proper PSAP and notifying the appropriate personnel. Additionally, solving for these problems in your enterprise space is now mandated by new FCC regulations.
Am I Compliant with E911 Legislation? What is My Risk of Non-Compliance?
On August 1st, 2019, the FCC released its Report and Order regarding E911. In it, the FCC established minimum rules for all MLTS platforms. This means every single business nationwide is now required to comply with the following legislation.
- Direct Dialing simply means that if someone picks up any phone connected to your enterprise’s network and dials 9-1-1, they must be connected to an emergency operator. For example, your organization cannot have additional prefixes required before dialing out to 9-1-1.
- Notification requires that your enterprise will need to provide an automatic notification to a front desk, security office, or administrative personnel in the case of every 9-1-1 call that takes place from your network.
The RAY BAUM’s Act
Section 506 of the RAY BAUM’s Act ensures that all MLTS phones (this includes BOTH static and nomadic phones, whether on or off premise) automatically provide emergency dispatchers, or PSAPs, with what the FCC is calling the “dispatchable location” of the 9-1-1 caller.
In addition to the risk of life-threatening delays, being without E911 puts your organization at risk of being out of compliance with federal E911 legislation. A lack of E911 technology not only impacts your employees’ access to emergency services, but can result in major fines and lawsuits for your organization.
What is “Dispatchable Location”?
The FCC has defined dispatchable location as “the street address of the [emergency caller], and additional information such as room number, floor number, or similar information necessary to adequately identify the location of the calling party”.
How Do I Become Compliant with E911 Legislation?
The goals the FCC sought to accomplish when establishing rules for this new legislation are:
- nationwide accessibility to 9-1-1 and emergency services
- awareness of emergency situations within an enterprise
- 9-1-1 callers being accurately located (regardless of where they may be calling)
Thinking about these goals in terms of FIND, ROUTE, and NOTIFY turns the challenge of compliance into a much more palatable project, as well as provide goal posts for the important questions your company needs to be asking such as:
- Does my organization’s phone system allow easy access to 9-1-1 without the need to dial a prefix before reaching an emergency response center?
- If someone dials 9-1-1 off my enterprise’s phone network, will the appropriate people within my organization be alerted?
- Will my remote workers be accurately located in the event they use an enterprise device to dial 9-1-1 from their home location?
- I have multiple devices that move throughout my campus, how can I keep track of the location of each device?
Most likely, you will need the help of a third-party provider in order to fully comply with E911 legislation. However, knowing what questions to be asking about your unique enterprise is the first step toward a successful E911 solution deployment and 100% compliance with FCC regulations.