There are countless (too many, unfortunately) instances where we might need to dial 911 to report a car accident, an injury, a crime, a fire, a suspicious activity, or other incident that requires emergency assistance. Some 240 million 911 calls are placed annually in the U.S.
What’s important is not only that this emergency call center is available, but that everyone knows what the number is to dial in an emergency. It’s one of the first things parents teach their children – if something happens, dial 911 immediately.
The critical nature of having an easily accessible emergency number was formally recognized with the signing of Kari’s Law in 2018, requiring callers to be able to dial 911 directly, without having to dial and outbound prefixes as offices or hotels often require. The effect is an instantly accessible emergency services operator accessible exactly the same way everywhere.
But, there are additional challenges with 911 services – particularly location identification of VoIP and Unified Communications (News - Alert) users, because these services disrupt the traditional relationship between a phone number and physical location. As a result, E911 standards have been evolved that require carriers, VoIP providers, and users to follow certain protocols that will ensure accurate caller data can be delivered to first responders – including Kari’s Law.
The importance of properly configured UC services to comply with E911 standards is why SkySwitch is including it among its featured topics at its annual user conference, Vectors 2019, taking place in Orlando, Florida, October 27-30.
“Kari’s Law came into effect late in 2018 and is just one example of what resellers need to be apprised of, so their customers avoid unnecessary risks, and the liability associated with those, when it comes to dialing 911,” said SkySwitch President Eric Hernaez (News - Alert). “At many conferences this year, a lot of the attention was focused on robocalling and STIR/Shaken, so while we’re covering that topic as well, we felt that as annoying as those calls can be, we’d shed light on something that can save lives, stop crimes, or help those in need with just a phone call.”
For consumers, 911 is (hopefully) a rare need. But, for businesses, it can be a common event, particularly in certain industries, like hospitality, healthcare, retail, and others. SkySwitch partners who deal with these and any other markets will hear first hand experiences from Joe Barasoain, Director of Emergency Services in Fulton County, Georgia, and Captain Scott L. Brillman, Director of 911 Services for the City of Baltimore, Maryland.
“When I moved from Virginia to Fulton County, I saw firsthand what happens when someone hasn’t updated their E911 information,” said Barasoain.
“You’d be amazed at the number of dispatches that go out each day nationwide to the wrong address, or to a multi-tenant building where police, fire or ambulance lose valuable time locating the calling party due to dated, incomplete or inaccurate information, or sometimes none at all,” added Brillman.
The discussion at Vectors 2019 will provide SkySwitch partners updated, firsthand insight into why it’s critical for them to understand and be able to comply with E911 regulations. Understanding how to properly configure phones for their customers could literally save lives.
Edited by Erik Linask