A Guide to 911 Compliance — What Businesses Need to Know

By: Mark Turpin 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics,?2.8 million industry workers were hurt or injured on the job in 2019, and 5,333 workers died from work-related injuries. During a crisis, every second counts, so your co-workers and customers need to be able to get help quickly and easily.  

Unfortunately, many current enterprise phone systems make this task easier said than done, as configuration and technical barriers prevent 911 operators from being able to pinpoint your exact location and get the information they need to assist you. 

To ensure help can arrive as quickly as possible, Congress enacted two laws:?Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act. 

What is Ray Baum’s Act?  

Ray Baum’s Act,?which took effect in January 2021, requires enterprises to provide automated dispatchable location information for all 911 calls. This means that your phone system needs to provide the PSAP (public safety answering point) with information that can be used to pinpoint the caller’s exact location. A dispatchable location is comprised of a valid street address, plus information such as the building, floor, suite, or room number. 

Because modern enterprise and campus environments often include several multi-story buildings with complex layouts and numerous rooms, it is incredibly difficult for first responders to pinpoint a caller’s exact location if they are only provided a street address.  

This additional location information is particularly useful if the caller is unable to speak (for example, because they are choking) or otherwise incapacitated. 

Organizations’ business phone systems are required to provide dispatchable location information for phones within their offices as of January 6, 2021. And on January 6, 2022, organizations must provide dispatchable location information for their remote workforce. Workers working from home, hotels, or even their local coffee shop, must have their current and correct address sent to the 911 PSAP.  

An example to consider is the remote worker who is traveling to Sacramento but whose home office is in New York. While they are traveling in Sacramento, they are in their hotel room and need to call 911. If they use their softphone, such as Cisco Jabber, it will not be legal to send the 911 call to the 911 PSAP in New York. The call must be routed to the 911 PSAP in Sacramento. 

Our 9Line software will intercept the 911 call and achieve this routing, providing you the compliance you need to enable compliance with this upcoming requirement. 

What is Kari’s Law? 

The tragic case of Kari Hunt Dunn showed how a simple, easily remedied configuration error can have disastrous consequences. Kari was the victim of a homicide in a Texas motel room, and though her 9-year-old daughter dialed 911, she wasn’t able to reach first responders because she didn’t know that the motel’s phone system required users to first dial 9 to access an outside line.  

As such, Kari’s Law,?which took effect February 16, 2020, requires all MLTS (multi-line telephone systems) to allow a user to: 

  1. Dial 911 directly, without a prefix or outside access code 
  2. Notify another party, such as management or the front desk, that an emergency call is in progress, and report the exact location of the call’s origin
  3. Provide a valid callback number, which when called by the 911 operator, will connect her to the person who called 911.  

The last requirement is especially challenging as most businesses only send their main business phone number when any outside call is made, including 911. This main number, when called, often goes to a receptionist or automated system and will not connect the 911 operator with the 911 caller. This is no longer legal and often requires additional software solutions added to the phone system to correct. 

How Can 9Line Help My Organization Become & Remain Compliant with Kari’s Law & the Ray Baum Act? 

The 9Line team is always here to help.   

  1. To begin, you or your Cisco partner (such as 9Line) will need to configure your Cisco Unified Communications Manager dial plan to support 911 direct dialing.
  2. Next, you will need to add a SingleWire Informacast or Cisco Emergency Responder (CER), which will ensure notifications are sent to your staff. 
  3. Finally, you will need to deploy your CER or SingleWire Informacast and integrate it with 9Line. This will ensure granular and dispatchable location information is sent to the PSAP, ensuring all 911 callers can be easily located.

Smaller organizations that do not have a remote workforce can take advantage of Cisco’s new native emergency calling (NEC) feature, which can help you configure your dial plan to call 911 promptly and directly. However, you will need to ensure you avoid any overlapping patterns, which may cause the system to wait as long as 15 seconds by default for the inter-digit (T302) timer. Note: if you deploy the NEC feature, you will need to work with your phone carrier to map all phone numbers configured for NEC to their corresponding phone’s physical locations. 

Why Choose 9Line? 

Fully Certified 911 Compliance 

9Line’s experienced team is here to help guide you through this process and ensure that your MLTS is compliant with both Kari’s Law and Ray Baum. 9Line is the only provider offering full certification of your 911 deployment, so you can rest assured that your staff and customers can easily call 911 in an emergency, and emergency responders can locate them quickly and that you are complying.  

More Detailed Location Notes 

In addition to the ability to certify your MLTS is compliant with both Kari’s Law and Ray Baum, 9Line’s system also supports more data location fields than similar competitors.  

For example, one competitor only offers 19 characters, forcing you to truncate valuable information (BLDG 14 STE 4562 OFC 1), while we offer 60 characters, which allows for more coherent and detailed notes (e.g. Building 14 Suite 4562 Office 1029 Break Room South Corner).  

Ensuring your MLTS complies with Kari’s Law and Ray Baum is about much more than checklists and checkmarks: When disaster strikes, your employees and customers need to be able to quickly and easily dial 911 without hassle, and PSAP needs to be able to get detailed location information swiftly and automatically so first responders can locate the caller, offer critical medical assistance, and save lives. 

Don’t delay. To get started on your MLTS reconfiguration, please schedule your free (virtual) assessment today