As the year is coming to a close, it is important that businesses assess their current emergency preparedness practices. For so many, where we began this year looks vastly different than where we are ending. As companies are relying more than ever on remote workers, it is vital that enterprise emergency solutions have adapted to changing environments, rather than remain stagnant.
Additionally, come January 2021, the first deadline for the Ray Baum Act arrives. When conducting a year end assessment of your 911 architecture, make sure to take into account compliance with BOTH Kari's Law and Ray Baum's Act.
This may require enhancing your current E911 solutions, and beginning a project toward E911 compliance. Beginning these projects now not only brings you to compliance with current E911 legislation, but also better prepares you for inevitable future NG911 regulations.
Whether your business is well versed in E911, or has never heard of E911 at all, asking the following questions will get you thinking about how to best prepare your company to meet approaching E911 compliance deadlines and implement best practices for future emergency preparedness.
1. Are We Compliant with Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’s Act? What About Our State's E911 Regulations?
The first thing every business should be asking right now is, “Am I compliant with Kari’s Law and the Ray Baum Act?” Regulations have been outlined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which was then enacted into federal legislation. These legislations place responsibility on your enterprise to accomplish three main things:
- Ensure your phone systems can dial 9-1-1 directly without having to dial a prefix to reach an outside line. (Kari’s Law)
- Provide notification to an appropriate party, such as a front desk or security team, that includes detailed information about the emergency caller. (Kari’s Law)
- Provide the “dispatchable location” of the emergency caller to the Public Safety Answering Point, or PSAP. (Ray Baum’s Act)
How do these requirements apply within your specific enterprise? What does your unique business need to do in order to comply with both Kari's Law and the Ray Baum Act?
First, you will need to determine if multiple regulations affect your enterprise. While federal E911 legislation clearly applies to all businesses nationwide, various states have implemented their own state-specific E911 requirements. In the case that your state regulations are more stringent than the federal requirements, you will have to ensure you are first and foremost compliant with your state legislation.
Second, it is important to note that while the new federal legislation applies to all businesses, your requirement to comply only kicks in if you have manufactured, purchased, sold, or installed new multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) after February 16, 2020.
This means that if your business is currently using legacy solutions, or you have not yet made any changes to your communications systems after February 16, 2020, you have time to properly plan and implement an E911 solution that will grow and adapt with your company. That way, when changes are made to your existing MTLS, you will already be compliant.
- Determine whether your state E911 regulations are more or less stringent than the federal E911 regulations
- Assess your current emergency preparedness plan, taking your state and federal legislation into account
- Determine if you have made changes to your existing MTLS after February 16, 2020
- If YES, understand you MUST be compliant with Kari's Law right now, and immediately begin preparing to comply with the RAY BAUM Act deadline on January 6, 2021
- If NO, begin researching what this legislation will mean for you once you do make any changes to your communications systems, begin making a plan for your path to E911 compliance and
2. What Is Necessary for Our Environment? Do We Need an E911 Plan for Remote Workers?
Once you determine the level (state and/or federal) at which you must comply and how quickly you will need to take action, you will need to evaluate your enterprise to see what E911 coverage is necessary for your environment. It is easier to think of this process in terms of FIND, ROUTE, and NOTIFY.
Begin by asking these questions about your enterprise to determine the most efficient way your organization will FIND the location of an emergency caller. This is especially important if you have remote workers, as your emergency plan must provide coverage that spans outside of the physical office space.
- What does your organization look like?
- One single site? A campus environment? Multi-floor buildings across the nation? Do your employees work from home?
- Where might a person dial 9-1-1?
- A cubical on the 17th floor? Behind a closed door office? In the southeast corner of a large warehouse? A laptop at their home office?
- From what devices might a person be dialing 9-1-1?
- A phone in the kitchen area at the office? A softphone on their laptop? A phone they received to work from home?
Once you are able to FIND an emergency caller in your enterprise (whether on or off premise), their 9-1-1 call needs to properly ROUTED to the appropriate emergency dispatch center, or what is technically called a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).
- How will 9-1-1 calls be sent from your call server to a service provider that can deliver that emergency call to the correct PSAP?
- Does your enterprise require multiple routing schemes?
- Do you use an on-site security team that is the primary responder for all 9-1-1 calls, as opposed to your local PSAP?
Even an emergency caller's location is found and their call is routed to the proper PSAP, other entities in the organization must be NOTIFIED in order to provide additional help.
- Will a security desk need to provide access to certain parts of a building?
- What administrators need to be aware of the existence of an emergency?
- What type of notification is best for your environment? Email? Text? Screen pops?
3. How to Get an E911 Project Off the Ground? What People Do We Need to Involve?
Make sure to identify those who will be champions for your E911 project. Below are just a few of the people/teams you will need to involve.
- Who is in charge of telecommunications?
- Are they aware of new E911 legislation: Kari's Law and RAY BAUM's Act?
- Is your IT department aware you will be beginning an E911 project toward compliance?
- What security and safety teams can you talk to about what specific requirements your environment might need?
- What legal teams should you consult with about your state and federal legislation requirements?
We are here to help you wherever you may be with your E911 project. We think E911 should be easy. So, if you have any questions about how E911 will work in your environment, please reach out. We are here to help you on your path to E911 compliance.