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Help! I need somebody…

Hopefully it never happens to you, but consider what would happen if an emergency happened to yourself or a co-worker when working from the office. You would dial 911 and wait for emergency personnel to show up and help with the situation. We take for granted that when we dial 911 that the call goes out and that emergency personnel know where you are to come and help.

  1. What about when you are at the office? Do you need to dial an 8 or 9 for an outbound line, and then 911?
  2. Will the call get routed to the correct 911 Emergency Center, known as the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), so that local help can come assist?
  3. When emergency personnel do arrive, will they know where to find you within the building or only know the building address?

These are all important questions that the Federal Communications Commission addressed when both Kari's Law and Section 506 of the Ray Baum Act were adopted to strengthen Emergency Calling with multi-line telephone systems (MLTS).

Kari's Law was named in honor of Kari Hunt. The law which Congress passed back in 2018 applies to all new or modified MLTS that exist at many, if not most, business environments. It states that any call to 911 must be routed directly out of the phone system without any special dialing code. No more 9-911 or 8-911 — just pick up the phone and dial 911.

The second part of Kari's Law is that on-site personnel are notified that a 911 call was made and where the call was made from. On-site personnel can be a security desk, front desk or other, but they need to be notified that a 911 call was made and where it was made from. Kari's Law has already taken effect as of February 16, 2020.

The Ray Baum Act is all about identifying a "dispatchable location" for the emergency. 

The official definition of dispatchable location reads as follows: "Section 506 of RAY BAUM'S Act defines 'dispatchable location' as 'the street address of the calling party, and additional information such as room number, floor number, or similar information necessary to adequately identify the location of the calling party (Federal Communications Commission. (2019)).'"

Clear as mud, right? A dispatchable location is not very specific on exactly what it should be. I have described it to customers in this way: If you were calling 911 yourself would the location information be enough for someone who doesn't know the building to find you? 

A phone system could be supporting multiple buildings or multiple floors in a building, and some floors can be very large. You do not want the emergency personnel playing a game of finding a needle in a haystack. Something like Building A, Floor 2 or Southwest Corner might get you close enough. You might even have to get more specific, such as Cube 123 or Room XYZ.

Important compliance dates

The Ray Baum Act also defines fixed calls, non-fixed calls and off-premise calls. This has to do with the device that is used to make the 911 call. A fixed call would be from your standard hardware telephone for example that is associated with someone's desk, conference room, etc. It has a fixed position and is known. 

A non-fixed call could be from someone who is using a soft client on their laptop that is connected to the Wi-Fi network. This device also needs to be able to identify where it is in the building if a call goes out to 911. Finally, off-prem calls would be remote workers who are leveraging the telephone system but working from home or hotel perhaps. Dialing 911 from a device in this situation might also need to give its location when calling 911. 

The date for compliance on fixed calls is January 6, 2021. For non-fixed and off-prem calls, January 6, 2022 is the deadline for compliance. These dates are just around the corner and compliance is very important.

Non-compliance with Kari's Law could face a fine of up to $10,000 in addition to other penalties, including a daily fine of up to $500 each day not in compliance. Non-compliance could put employees, customers and others at risk should an emergency occur, not to mention the civil liability if someone was hurt or worse due to non-compliance. For more information on Kari's Law, Ray Baum Act and MLTS, the FCC website provides additional details. 

We have experts who can help guide you on compliance. Partnerships with Cisco, RedSky and Intrado give insight into the solutions that can help your organization with compliance on both Kari's Law and the Ray Baum Act. However, we do not provide any legal interpretation or guidance. Please consult with an attorney on how Kari's Law, Ray Baum Act and other local laws might affect your organizations compliance with 911 calling.

Where we can help is by educating and informing your collaboration and communications team in a one-hour analyst-style briefing. Further, we have a demonstration of the solution that we've proven out in our Advanced Technology Center (ATC).

Solution demonstration

Within WWT's Advanced Technology Center, we installed and tested the equipment needed to demonstrate how our e911 solution works. With Cisco Emergency Responder 12.5, along with Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM), we can demonstrate how this solution allows your organization to comply with FCC rules in providing address information of a caller in an emergency situation. 

Contact us to schedule this briefing and connect with our technical architects to discuss the solution and/or see the demonstration. If you are already working with WWT, feel free to ask your account manager to schedule this demo.