This article originally appeared in the December 2010 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
Last month I explained the pros and cons of using the local exchange carrier’s PS-ALI service to provide emergency dispatchers with the location information of a 911 caller on your enterprise network.
This month, we’ll explore the third-party E911 alternatives to PS-ALI, including hardware and software solutions as well as cloud-based, hosted services. To understand which solution is best for your enterprise, you first need to evaluate your organization and telephony infrastructure.
Are you a small, single location enterprise with a single PBX (News - Alert) or call server? Or, do you have a large campus with multiple buildings? Perhaps you are a multi-state, widely distributed enterprise with one or more PBX/call server clusters? Your organization’s size and complexity are generally the first factors to consider when setting up E911 protection.
Here is a brief rundown of the most common third-party E911 solutions – all of which help organizations comply with E911 regulations:
Cloud-Based E911 Solutions
E911 hosted solutions are generally easy to set up and relatively inexpensive since there is no hardware or software to buy. You simply pay a monthly fee based on the number of phones on your network. These services can route 911 calls and deliver location information to any public safety answering point in the U.S. or Canada. On the flip side, these services require an administrator to update records manually whenever a phone is added or moved. As a result, hosted services are not ideal for enterprises with users who move around the network or work remotely.
Hardware-based E911 solutions generally are packaged in small servers that are installed on your network. They work with PBXs or call servers to track automatically the location of phones on your network and update location records used by emergency dispatchers in the event of a 911 call. Since you’re buying equipment as well as software, costs can escalate. Larger enterprises often need multiple appliances to protect all users on their networks.
Enterprise-class E911 software solutions can offer fully automated, cross-platform functionality to provide the most complete and flexible E911 protection. In addition to working with all the leading call platforms and maintaining accurate location information for all network devices including those used by mobile and remote workers, these solutions offer real-time notification of in-progress 911 calls and scale easily to accommodate growth and technology advancements. Combining on-premises software with an E911 network service to route emergency calls can dramatically reduce costs by eliminating the need for local 911 trunking at remote locations by consolidating 911 traffic on IP trunks. All this functionality and flexibility comes with a price, but in the long run on-premises software solutions are often the most cost effective for larger, more complex enterprises.
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi