It has been quite a year for E911, as legislation, standards and technology have all taken significant steps forward. Here’s a rundown of the year’s key developments that may impact your organization.
In Michigan, E911 legislation is now in place that requires organizations with multi-line telephone systems to provide the location of a 911 caller. The details vary based on number of buildings and square footage, and failure to comply could result in fines from $500 to $5,000 per offense. The final mandatory compliance deadline, however, will likely be pushed out five years in response to opposition from some large employers in the state.
In California, the Public Utilities Commission is looking closely at improving E911 protection and is working with all stakeholders including the local exchange carriers and competitive local exchange carriers. The CPUC has reviewed how the LECs provide enterprises with access to E911 and have adopted LEC supported E911 awareness programs and procedures for testing 911 calls from MLTS owners to assure proper data delivery and emergency response. The CPUC has recommended adopting the National Emergency Number Association’s model legislation, but it is up to the California State Legislature to enact such legislation.
Whether you call it next-gen or NG911, NENA took a significant step this summer when it approved the i3 standard, which lays out a detailed architecture for key elements of NG911 systems. The i3 standard prescribes how networks and devices will eventually work together to enable voice, text, picture, and data exchange between citizens and first responders. In the aftermath, 911 authorities and public safety answering points are now devising plans for adopting the new standards either through forklift upgrades or a more measured migration path.
Providing E911 protection to employees continues to become more challenging as the workforce becomes more dispersed and communication networks adapt to accommodate the accelerated adoption of softphones and enterprise Wi-Fi. This year, many enterprises are adopting E911 as a cloud-based service to better support their mobile workforces and remote, distributed locations. Fortunately, some third-party E911 software vendors continue to provide innovative, cost-effective solutions that keep pace with the changes in unified communications platforms. Also noteworthy is the fact that some E911 applications have been adapted to work in new virtual computing environments, which aligns with a major enterprise IT trend toward virtualization.
As we head into 2012, the topic of E911 is still a front and center issue for many states in terms of regulation and legislation, and the industry is doing a credible job of bringing forward new E911 solutions that are attuned to the rapid technology advancements happening in unified communications.
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi