E911 changes are coming to your voice system. Accurate 911 routing and location management have become increasingly important for businesses to stay current as FCC laws adjust from landline phones to VoIP and remote employees ( https://www.fcc.gov/mlts-911-requirements ). A lack of accurate phone location data could mean first responders get dispatched to the wrong location within the building, translating to potential liabilities for your business.
How does 911 location tracing work with VoIP?
Traditional landline phones are connected to a fixed address through the physical phone line, but because VoIP originates over the internet, you’re not limited to a single location. Without knowing your location, dispatchers and first responders can’t begin to help you. That’s why E911 (or enhanced 911) was created. It conveys the VoIP 911 callers’ location and callback number to emergency services, also known as a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). For this to work effectively and to point first responders to the phone that dialed 911, an ERL (Emergency Record Locator) and ELIN (Emergency Location Identification Number) need to be set up for each phone.
To provide a safer environment for businesses and employees, new laws have been enacted. Many states within the US have local state-level E911 laws that telecommunications companies may also need to abide by. However, the federal government via the FCC has enacted Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act which will affect you regardless of your current state laws.
Kari’s Law was enacted in 2018 and requires two things:
- That 911 calls must be able to go through regardless if the phone system requires a prefix digit (i.e. having to add a ‘9’, or a ‘1’ prefix to dial out).
- For facilities such as hotels and other large buildings where dispatchable location information is not available, a designated person within the building (such as, an administrator, security, etc.) must be notified whenever a 911 call has been made.
Ray Baum’s Act
Ray Baum’s Act section 506 states that businesses must now have E911 dispatchable location information sent from their phone system to the PSAP operator. This provides specific details to the location of the 911 call via an ERL (Emergency Record Locator) or through dynamic location routing. This is more granular than E911, which only provides the company name, building number, street address, and suite number. ERL and dynamic location routing on the other hand provide first responders with information such as the floor, suite, and precise area. For example – Floor 15, suite 365, southeast corner cubical. This information is automatically conveyed from the ERL database to the nearest PSAP (Public Service Answering Point) upon a 911 call. Local PSAP regulations may have different specifications for ERLs formats which may limit the number of characters that can be conveyed, so it’s worth making sure you’re in compliance.
These E911 changes are rolling out in phases with two important dates:
January 6, 2021 – Fixed, on-premise devices such as desk phones that don’t normally move around.
January 6, 2022 – Non-fixed devices (both on-premise and off-premise) such as softphones, mobile clients, and apps like Microsoft Teams and Skype.
If you are unsure whether or not you’re currently in compliance, please reach out for more information.