Today’s enterprises are complex. First, they often have multiple locations scattered across the nation, from large campuses with multi-story complexes to small branch offices with only a few employees. Second, thanks to the flexibility enabled by Unified Communications (UC), users often move within and between these locations with ease. Third, and finally, in addition to moving around on the enterprise network, users often access the voice network remotely, either from home or from other non-enterprise locations (e.g. coffee shops, conference centers, etc.).
These three factors can make it difficult to know exactly where a user is located at any given point in time. This is especially problematic when it comes to 9-1-1. It’s essential to know where a caller is located in order to dispatch the call to the right Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) with location information that allows first responders to locate the caller quickly. With safety being a top priority for all organizations, ensuring users have the 9-1-1 support they require, in spite of all this complexity, is necessary. In this blog, we’ll explore why each of these three factors qualifies as an E9-1-1 risk, and how you can solve each E9-1-1 risk factor with the right E9-1-1 solution.
Location Risk Factor
Increasingly, enterprises are centralizing their infrastructure, which poses a challenge when delivering 9-1-1 calls to the appropriate PSAP. For example, if a branch office in California were connected to the corporate IP-PBX in New York, a 9-1-1 call dialed in California would be delivered to the New York PSAP with the New York billing address, unless an appropriate solution is in place. There are thousands of PSAPs across North America and they all work independently. Your organization needs to be able to determine what PSAP is the right one for each caller. It also needs to send that call and the caller’s location information directly to the emergency dispatcher at that PSAP.
Beyond simply getting the call to the right PSAP, it is critical that the enterprise sends along enough pertinent information about the caller’s location so the first responders can quickly locate the caller when they arrive on-scene. If the caller is located in a large multi-story complex, emergency personnel need more information than simply the street address – they need to know the floor, quadrant, or even the workstation of the caller. It’s critical for enterprises to assign and define accurate locations within their communication network for E9-1-1.
How West Can Help
West’s Emergency Routing Service (ERS) provides organizations with connectivity to PSAPs across the US and Canada. Regardless of where the corporate PBX is located, ERS allows the enterprise to connect users at every location to the appropriate PSAP. It also allows organizations to specify location details beyond the street address – so if a caller is located on the 5th floor, in office 502 of a multi-story complex, those additional details can be sent on to the PSAP. Arriving first responders know exactly where they need to go when they show up at the front door.
Mobility Risk Factor
When we think of mobility in an enterprise, we think of users moving around the corporate environment. This can be users transiting from one location to another and using the soft phone on their laptop, or users with multiple devices in different locations, all with the same phone number.
So, if a user moves from one location to the next or can call out from the same phone number from various locations around the enterprise, how do you know where they are when they dial 9-1-1? How do you make sure their true location is transmitted to the right PSAP?
How West Can Help
West’s Emergency Gateway (EGW) – an E9-1-1 management appliance – tracks IP phones based on the locations assigned to Layer 2 (switch/ports-based), Layer 3 (IP subnet-based) and Wireless IP network elements. The caller’s phone number or extension is not used to determine their location. Instead, the caller’s location data is determined by associating the specific device used to make the call to the specific network element(s) to which that device is connected. Once the device is located, the user’s location identifier is sent to West’s Emergency Routing Service (ERS), which uses this data to identify the correct local PSAP for call routing. Thus, users can move on the network with ease, without compromising their ability to get accurate and reliable 9-1-1 service in an emergency.
Remote Worker Risk Factor
When an enterprise supports remote workers (users who access the corporate voice network from an off-network location like their homes, coffee shops, convention centers, etc.), they quickly realize that traditional E9-1-1 solutions that use local trunks and gateways do not support these remote workers. If one of these users dials 9-1-1, their location will be unknown and their call will likely be routed to an incorrect PSAP. This puts the remote workers at risk, and exposes the enterprise to liability.
How West Can Help
West’s Remote Location Manager (RLM) tool is a module of EGW that allows these remote workers to self-provision their off-site locations, in real time, so that their location data is available in the event of an emergency. Its easy-to-use interface automatically pops up on the employee’s screen when they connect to a new off-site location and prompts them to enter their address details. RLM is intelligent and is able to identify when the user has connected to a previously entered location, so they only have to self-provision a location once. ERS then uses that location information to identify the correct local PSAP for call routing and delivers the call and self-provisioned caller-location information accordingly.
Regardless of the risk factors your enterprise is facing, rest assured that West has you covered. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our E9-1-1 experts should you have any questions or concerns about E9-1-1 in your enterprise.
Are any of the three E9-1-1 risk factors present within your enterprise? Share in the comments section below!