By: Mark Turpin
During a crisis, every second counts. To help ensure 911 operators can pinpoint a 911 caller’s exact location and relay that information to first responders, and make it as easy as possible to call 911 in the first place, Congress recently enacted two laws: Kari’s Law and the Ray Baum Act.
We’ve discussed the details of these new laws (and covered what all organizations need to know to become and remain compliant) in a previous article1, so in this article, we will do a deep dive into 9Line’s Enterprise 911 checklist and discuss some best practices all organizations should adopt.
9Line’s Enterprise 911 Checklist
To ensure you are compliant with both Kari’s Law and Ray Baum, your enterprise phone system must:
- Allow users to dial 911 directly without the need to dial a digit to get an outside line. (Kari’s Law, went into effect February 16, 2020)
- Notify on-site staff (such as the site manager or front desk staff) when a 911 call is placed from within your organization and report the exact location of the call’s origin. (Kari’s Law)
- Provide a valid callback number, which, when called back, will connect the 911 operator directly with the person who placed the initial emergency call. (Kari’s Law)
- Provide dispatchable location information (street address, and building, floor number, and office or room number) for all phones within your office. (Ray Baum Act, effective January 6, 2021)
- Provide dispatchable location information (street address and other details) for remote or nomadic workers who call 911 using their company phone (Ray Baum Act, effective January 6, 2022).
While many organizations already allow callers to call 911 directly, too many organizations don’t have their phone systems configured to support points two through five.
Ensuring your organization is in full compliance with both Kari’s Law and Ray Baum is critical: First and foremost, this functionality ensures that should disaster strike, first responders can assist as soon as possible. However, being non–compliant can also impact your bottom line: It’s cheaper to comply now than face fines, and even legal action and lawsuits, later on.
To help ensure you are in full compliance, 9Line offers free assessments, where we will evaluate your current phone system’s functionality and provide both actionable advice and our expert services to ensure your phone system is correctly configured to improve 911 response times should an incident occur.
Best Practices for All Organizations
All organizations, regardless of size, industry, or vertical, should:
- Lock the wiring closet. Once you have mapped all the phones in your environment, it is vital that you lock the wiring closet or server room to prevent workers from unwittingly destroying all your hard work. I have lost count of the number of times I have had an organization contact me in a panic after deployment because Bob from accounting just wanted to help Debbie set up her new printer and did so by unplugging and moving around a bunch of cables and accidentally ruined the mapping of all the phones.
- Update your company signage. You have invested significant resources to map the network and identify all of your phones’ locations. Now, you should ensure that the signage present at elevators and stairwells reflects the same names you’re sending to the 911 operator. This way, when first responders arrive on the correct floor, they know which direction to go to find the “Break Room” or “Northwest Quadrant”.
- Have a clearly defined update process. You need to have a business process in place to keep your phone location data up to date. This not only ensures you remain compliant but also ensures that the location data sent to the 911 operator is accurate, potentially saving lives.
- Don’t delay. When it comes to compliance, it’s always cheaper to invest in the work and infrastructure you need to comply now than address fines and litigation later for non-compliance. Not only can fines and lawsuits affect your bottom line, but a lawsuit can cause irreparable reputational damage.
- Be as granular as possible. Realistically, if you can get first responders to the right floor and the correct general area (such as the northeast corner of the building), you should be fine, but it doesn’t hurt to add as many details as possible (such as office numbers). The more information you can provide beyond a street number, the better.
How Does 9Line Help My Organization Become, and Stay, Compliant?
To help you comply with Kari’s Law and Ray Baum, you will need to:
- Configure your Cisco Unified Communications Manager dial plan to support 911 direct dialing (this can be done by you or your Cisco partner).
- Next, add a SingleWire Informacast or Cisco Emergency Responder (CER), which will notify your staff if a 911 call is placed.
- Finally, deploy CER and integrate it with 9Line. This ensures that granular dispatchable information for your office workers and those working from home is sent to the 911 dispatcher so that all 911 callers can be easily located.
For smaller organizations without a remote workforce, we may suggest taking advantage of Cisco’s native emergency calling (NEC) feature. This feature walks you through configuring your Cisco Unified Communications Manager phone system to call 911 promptly and directly.
However, NEC needs to be configured correctly to avoid overlapping patterns, which could inadvertently cause a system to wait as long as 15 seconds for the inter-digit (T302) timer.
Should you choose to deploy the NEC feature, you will need to coordinate with your phone carrier to ensure all emergency location phone numbers configured for NEC have been correctly mapped to each phone’s physical location.
Educational Institutes: Alyssa’s Law
Though compliance has not yet been mandated, educational institutions and organizations should begin preparing for Alyssa’s Law. This legislation dictates that all public and charter elementary and secondary school buildings will soon need to be equipped with a silent panic alarm with a direct connection to local law enforcement.
Alyssa’s Law is named after Alyssa Alhedeff, a 14-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkdale, Florida. She was one of the 17 victims of the February 14, 2018, mass school shooting.
By thinking ahead, affected organizations will have time to carefully plan and implement their systems and ensure it is fully functional and correctly configured before Alyssa’s Law takes effect.
To find out more about Alyssa’s Law and when it comes into effect in your state, please visit makeourschoolssafe.org.
Why Choose 9Line?
Affordable & Easily Deployed
At 9Line, we pride ourselves on making safety affordable and accessible without compromising the quality of the products or services we offer.
Our systems are easily deployed, configured, and updated, so you can remain compliant, and rest assured that your workers, customers, and other business visitors can easily get help should an incident occur.
Certified 911 Compliance
9Line is the only provider that offers full compliance certifications. Our team of experts will be with you every step of the way to help guide you through the compliance process and ensure your multi-line telephone system (MLTS) is correctly configured to comply with both Kari’s Law and Ray Baum.
You can rest easy knowing that your staff and customers can quickly and easily contact 911 in an emergency, that first responders will be able to get the information they need to locate them quickly, and that you are in full compliance.
More Detailed Location Information
In addition to ensuring your organization complies with both Ray Baum and Kari’s Law, 9Line’s system also supports more data location fields than similar competitors.
For example, one of our competitors only offers 19 characters, forcing you to truncate valuable information and possibly leading to confusion and delays, an unacceptable situation when every second counts.
In contrast, 9Line supports the full 60 characters, allowing for more detailed and coherent notes for PSAPs employing the full data field.
- Competitor location information example (19 characters): BLDG 14 STE 4562 OFC 1
- 9Line location information example (up to 60 characters): Building 14 Suite 4562 Office 1029 Break Room South Corner
When an emergency occurs, every second counts: You need to know that your employees and customers can quickly and easily get the help they need without delay. 9Line’s enterprise 911 checklist can help ensure you are compliant and could mean the difference between life and death.
Don’t delay. To book your free (virtual) compliance assessment, please visit our website.