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IP Phone Tracking

Automate phone management, reduce human error and support phone mobility with West Safety Services.

OVERVIEW

Emergency Gateway (EGW) helps organisations automate IP phone management and ensure that an emergency caller’s location information is always accurate and up-to-date. Depending on the IP phone system deployed, the EGW can automatically discover IP phones via layer 2 (switchbased), layer 3 (subnet-based), and/or wireless LAN tracking.

To enable the precise automatic tracking of IP phones, the EGW allows organisations to divide their locations into smaller geographic zones called Emergency Response Locations (ERLs), which may be defined to the building, floor, or room level, or to any other user-identifiable area. ERLs are then associated to network elements such as switches and ports, subnets, and access points. This allows the EGW to discover an IP phone’s location by retrieving the correct ERL based on its network location.

ERL records and network maps may be uploaded to the EGW using the administrative Dashboard web interface, FTP server, or SOAP interface (ERLs only). Once the network maps and ERLs have been uploaded, the EGW obtains the organisation’s IP phone inventory from the IP-PBX, and can proceed to automatically track the organisation’s IP phones. Automate phone management, reduce human error and support phone mobility with West Safety Services.

2 LAYER 2 TRACKING

Layer 2 tracking works based on the association of ERLs to specific layer 2 switches and ports.

The EGW regularly scans the network using SNMP v1, v2c, or v3 to match IP phone MAC addresses with specific switches and ports. When 9-1-1 is dialed, the EGW uses the phone’s MAC address to reference its corresponding switch and port, and associated ERL, based on the network maps preprovisioned in the EGW.

Layer 2 tracking is the ideal method for enterprises that have accurate wiring closets (e.g. a reliable mapping of switches and ports to ERLs) and require highly granular location provisioning.

Supported Switches

The EGW supports the broadest range of switches in the industry, including:

  • Cisco Catalyst
    • HP Procurve • Dell PowerEdge, PowerConnect
    • Juniper EX • Extreme Networks Summit, BlackDiamond, and Alpine
    • All switches that support Bridge MIB (RFC 1493)

Third-Party Scanning

The EGW supports third-party network inventory applications using a batch file interface.

 LAYER 3 TRACKING

Layer 3 tracking works based on the association of ERLs to specific IP subnets.

When 9-1-1 is dialed, the EGW uses the phone’s IP address to look up the corresponding ERL using the network maps pre-provisioned in the EGW.

Layer 3 tracking is the ideal method for enterprises with geographically-assigned subnets.

WIRELESS LAN TRACKING

Wireless LAN tracking works based on the association of ERLs to access points. This method of wireless LAN tracking allows you to support centralised wireless networks, providing the most granular location tracking capabilities possible for wireless endpoints.

The EGW regularly queries the network wireless LAN controllers to match wireless IP phone MAC addresses with access points (APs). When 9-1-1 is dialed, the EGW uses the phone’s MAC address to reference its corresponding BSSID and associated ERL, based on the network maps preprovisioned in the EGW.

E9-1-1 SOFTPHONE LOCATOR

The E9-1-1 Softphone Locator (ESL) is software that allows the EGW to automatically track the location of on-campus soft phones. It also enables emergency support for many advanced unified communications features such as shared line appearance, extension mobility, concurrent logins, and shared workspaces.

The ESL updates the EGW with a soft phone’s unique provisioning data (e.g. MAC, IP address, BSSID, extension) each time an endpoint is activated or moves on the network, and at pre-configured intervals. The EGW references this data to a layer 2, layer 3, or Wireless LAN network map to determine the location of the phone. Wireless LAN tracking requires Windows Vista and above.

The ESL also enables the EGW to successfully maintain unique identifiers for IP soft phones. Regardless of the logged in user profile, the IP softphone can be located based on the mapping between the layer 2/layer 3 address or wireless access point of the phone and the provisioned emergency location.

SUPPORT FOR OVERLAID TRACKING OPTIONS

To ensure accurate location information is available for endpoints at all times, the EGW supports overlaid tracking options. This feature is ideal for organisations using a static database (e.g. Pinnacle, etc.) to associate locations to IP and analogue/digital endpoints, and for organisations that have implemented Layer 2 tracking as their preferred tracking method.

To implement overlaid tracking options, organisations must upload network maps for each method of tracking they wish to support. The order of preference among the different location tracking methods (Layer 2, Layer 3, Wireless LAN, static database information) may be configured in the EGW.

 External Database

Some organisations have an existing static database which associates locations to their IP, analogue, and digital endpoints. While this is beneficial for immobile analogue and digital endpoints, it can be problematic for IP endpoints. Specifically, the location information contained within the static database may not be accurate for IP phones, which can move freely on the network.

To implement overlaid tracking in this scenario, organisations simply upload the static database into the EGW, along with Layer 2, Layer 3, and/or Wireless LAN network maps. Where there is a discrepancy between the static records and the Layer 2, Layer 3, and/or Wireless LAN discovered locations of IP endpoints, the EGW is configured to prioritise the discovered location associated to the IP endpoints. This means that when 9-1-1 is dialed, the location information associated to the IP endpoint is based on the network element to which the endpoint is connected, rather than a static location which may be outdated.

Layer 2 Tracking

With Layer 2 tracking, the locations of endpoints are determined during SNMP network scans, which are typically configured to occur at one hour intervals. However, if an endpoint is connected to the network and places an emergency call prior to being detected by the SNMP scan, the endpoint will appear as unprovisioned. Overlaid tracking allows organisations to use alternate tracking methods in the intervening period between SNMP scans, to prevent newly added or moved endpoints from appearing unprovisioned.

For example, when an endpoint is first connected to the organisation’s network, its location is immediately available via Layer 3 tracking. If the network SNMP scan has not completed and the endpoint places an emergency call, the EGW will associate the Layer 3 subnet location information to the endpoint. However, if the endpoint places an emergency call after the Layer 2 scan has completed, the EGW will associate the switch/port location to the endpoint.

To implement overlaid tracking in this scenario, organisations simply upload Layer 3 and/or Wireless LAN network maps along with their Layer 2 network maps when provisioning the EGW.

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