While 2020 was already on track to be the year of mobility, no one anticipated just how accurate this would become. Everyone is suddenly remote with no “return date” at the end of the tunnel. Companies have begun to switch mindsets. Temporary collaborative solutions are now being revisited as necessary permanent investments, and as companies settle into this “new normal” questions are beginning to arise. If your company has adopted new collaborative communication tools in order to accommodate a remote workforce, this question should be at the top of your mind: Do our new operations maintain compliance with federal legislation?
With the office being virtually anywhere, collaborative communication systems work to connect employees across any distance. However, the tools that allow us to collaborate must also work to keep us safe and secure. That is why the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has developed new E911 regulations for all multi-line telephone systems across the nation.
What does this mean? Simply, complying with this new federal E911 legislation means keeping your workforce safe and secure, no matter where they may be. As we have been growing into increasingly dispersed and mobile environments, the ways in which we approach safety and security must adapt. The FCC recognized this need, and sought to ensure:
- Nationwide accessibility to 911 and emergency services
- The proper personnel are made aware of an emergency on the enterprise through a notification (even from a remote location)
- A 9-1-1 caller is accurately located no matter where they may be calling from
With these goals in mind, the FCC developed Kari’s Law and the RAY BAUM Act. Below, we will discuss the ins and outs of Kari’s Law, how your enterprise is impacted, and how to begin your path to compliance.
The history of how Kari’s Law came to be is both a tragedy and triumph. In 2016, Kari Hunt Dunn was murdered by her estranged husband in a hotel room. Her daughter was present, and attempted to call 9-1-1 four times. However, she was unable to reach help due to the hotel’s phone system requiring guests to dial “9” before outbound dialing.
Kari’s father, Hank Hunt, turned his grief into action, and made it his mission to ensure no one experience the struggle Kari’s daughter faced that day. Mr. Hunt succeeded in leading a nationwide movement that resulted in the U.S. House of Representatives passing Kari’s Law with a vote of 408-0, as well as unanimous consent by the U.S. Senate.
Kari’s Law was signed into federal law on February 16, 2018. On August 1, 2019, Ajit Pai, Chairman of the FCC, stated,
“In particular, these rules will make it easier for Americans in hotels, office buildings, and campuses to dial 911 and reach the help that they need in an emergency. And they will make it more likely than when such a 911 call is placed, an on-site notification is provided so that an employee can help speed response times when emergency personnel arrives.”
Kari’s Law seeks to accomplish the first two goals we discussed, both accessibility to 9-1-1 and an awareness of emergency situations within one’s enterprise. This translates into the “Direct Dialing” and “Notification” requirements the FCC developed.
Accessibility to 911 services translates into the “Direct Dialing” component of Kari’s Law. Direct Dialing simply means that your enterprise communications system must be able to directly dial to 9-1-1 without the addition of a prefix. If someone picks up the phone and dials 9-1-1 off the enterprise network, they must be connected to an emergency dispatcher. While this is typically the responsibility of the manufacturer, organizations must verify the communication systems they use are configured in such a way as to allow direct dialing.
Kari’s Law states 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. Additionally, the notification will need to provide specific information that a 9-1-1 call is occurring, the phone number that dialed 9-1-1, and the location of where the call was placed.
Adequate notification necessitates an awareness of end-point location. A simple notification without the location of the 9-1-1 call is rendered useless when the emergency takes place in a multi-floor building, large campus environment, warehouse, etc.
This means that your communication system will need to provide both notification of a 9-1-1 call, as well as alert someone as to where that call is coming from within your enterprise.
Kari’s Law Deadline
ALREADY PAST DUE. After February 16, 2020, businesses that alter their communication systems in any fashion are also obligated to ensure their communication systems do not hinder a person from dialing 9-1-1 in any way. Additionally, when a person dials 9-1-1 from your enterprise’s communication system, the front desk, security office, or relevant personnel must be informed.
What Does This Mean for Me?
Right now, businesses that alter their communication systems in any fashion are obligated to ensure their communication systems do not hinder a person from dialing 9-1-1 in any way. Additionally, when a person dials 9-1-1 from your enterprise’s communication system, the front desk, security office, or relevant personnel must be informed.
Where Do I Go from Here?
A good first step is to download this FREE eBook.
It will help you identify what your specific organization will need to do in order to become compliant, as well as provide comprehensive task lists of the components to a successfully deployed E911 solution. We are here to help make compliance easy, so if you have any questions please reach out to our team at RedSky.
Federal Communications Commission. (2019)Implementing Kari's Law and Section 506 of RAY BAUM'S Act, 911 Access, Routing, and Location in Enterprise Communications Systems, Amending the Definition of Interconnected VoIP Service in Section 9.3 of the Commission's Rules. (Report No. FCC-19-76).Retrieved from https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-improves-access-911-and-timely-assistance-first-responders-0
We are not lawyers; these are our opinions. However, we are experts in E911 and this Report and Order falls within the parameters of our expertise.