The landscape of “9-1-1” is rapidly changing due to technology that helps organizations decentralize operations. With the rise in long-term remote work plans and UC platforms, where employees experience emergencies and how they call for help is now vastly different. These changes must be accounted for across organizational emergency preparedness and compliance plans.
If your organization deployed new communication software to maintain operations during the pandemic, you must now also determine whether these changes require further action to comply with federally mandated E911 requirements.
Additionally, you should assess any current E911 solution in place to see whether its coverage extends to those employees now working from home.
We spoke with Jerry Eisner, ENP, and VP of Public Safety at RedSky Technologies, an Everbridge company, about what organizations can expect to see in terms of how to prepare for 9-1-1 advancements and compliance requirements in the next year, five years, and beyond.
Within The Next Year: E911 Compliance with Kari’s Law and the RAY BAUM Act
In the immediate future, the most pressing issue for organizations surrounding 9-1-1 preparedness is compliance with state and federal E911 legislation. The specific laws that have been recently enacted are Kari’s Law and the RAY BAUM Act are covered by new FCC Rules.
Compliance requires modern technology to find 9-1-1 callers, route 9-1-1 calls to the appropriate dispatch center, and to notify the correct individuals of the emergency call.
Certain deadlines for these laws have already passed. Are you certain your organization is already in compliance? Are you being proactive about complying with new deadlines that are approaching in January of 2022?
When answering such questions, many organizations engage in the “How much is enough?” discussion. In other words, how much of a technology investment do organizations really need to be “compliant enough” to pass regulatory standards?
In the coming year and beyond, organizations will certainly be faced with deciding how much they are willing to invest in emergency preparedness and E911 compliance.
It has become clear through consultations with lawyers, IT teams, and business executives that the decision is a highly subjective one that differs across organizations. It is up to the individual leaders within each organization to decide how much technology they are willing to introduce.
When debating the right solution for the enterprise, leaders must understand that while less may be a viable option now, compliance enforcement will be driven by the first high-profile lawsuit. After considering the expense of a civil case, and the hit to brand image, executives will heed recommendations and make investments in proper solutions, rather than “good enough” options.
Those that have been proactive about emergency preparedness will not have to worry about costly quick fixes to bring their organization in to compliance .
Also, being proactive often goes hand in hand with proper fulfillment of duty of care to employees, thus lowering risk exposure for the enterprise.
In The Next Five Years: How 9-1-1 Will Keep Up With Shifting Technology
When looking ahead into the next five years, Jerry Eisner anticipates we’ll see a shift in technology in terms of how the enterprise actually gets voice service.
“We’ve already seen a shift away from traditional voice to a client that has UC capabilities for messaging, video, file sharing, chat. I think that will continue.”
This technology change will be a major shift away from hard-wired networks to wireless, whether over a private 5G connection or Wi-Fi 6. He anticipates bandwidth capabilities of these platforms will be very similar. And in the near future, that should be fast enough to handle everything an organization can throw at it.
The way Eisner sees it, the question will soon be, “Can industries that are providing these services keep up with [next gen] NG9-1-1 standards, or will band-aid solutions again emerge as ‘good enough’ for compliance and emergency preparedness needs?"
The challenge will be adequate location determination capabilities as technology will take us farther and farther away from traditionally centralized places of work.
Eisner believes 9-1-1 on the service provider side will have to figure out how to keep up with these systems, and how to best provide solutions that allow for optimal emergency service coverage for the enterprise.
Into The Future: Enhanced Technology To Drive Best Emergency Practices
As the nation moves toward full adoption of NG9-1-1 capabilities, the opportunities for more inputs rather than a voice call start to come into play. This has begun with the adoption of text to 9-1-1 capabilities, and shift toward devices becoming fully location aware.
In addition to that approach, Eisner speculates whether built-in IoT sensors are going to trigger their own kind of alarms. For example, a smoke detector that is location-aware can send automatic 9-1-1 alerts upon sensing smoke. Furthermore, the smoke detector might then be able to push all that data to an emergency dispatch center.
NG9-1-1 has the potential to capture all the important data from an emergency situation and automatically send that to dispatchers and others who can best aid the situation.
On enterprise side, the responsibility question shifts. Where will the responsibility lie in terms of updating systems to allow for NG9-1-1 capabilities? If an emergency occurs, and this kind of technology was available and could have been implemented but wasn’t, what will the impact be on the enterprise?
In the future of 9-1-1, the biggest business driver may not necessarily be regulatory, as we see today. Organizations implementing these technologies may realize significantly lower insurance costs from protecting its people, assets, and facilities.
As you think of your business, the calculus of future risk will likely be influenced by the sheer amount of automation you have in place. Organizations with less technology may be assessed as a higher risk. The continual application of technology to increasingly remove human error will reflect positively on an organization’s risk level.
Insurance rates are sure to be positively impacted as businesses pursue compliance. The merger of IoT with 9-1-1 seems like the future of how businesses can be best prepare for both emergency situations and 9-1-1 requirements. In other words, implementing technology that understands how to act in emergency situations.
While all may seem down the road, staying current with E911 practices gives you a head start in preparing for the future of 9-1-1. Implementing solutions that grow with your enterprise and carry your organization into the future of 9-1-1, keeps your people safe and your organization compliant.
If you would like to learn more about how your organization can stay ahead of 9-1-1 practices, please reach out to us at RedSky Technologies, an Everbridge company. We are here to make compliance with current E911 legislation easy, while ensuring your organization is prepared for the future of 9-1-1.