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Building a Budget for E911 — One Size Doesn’t Fit All

By Nick Maier

You’ve just been notified that you need to comply with state E911 regulations, or you’ve had an incident in which emergency responders arrived at the wrong place when a 911 call was made. You know you need to implement an E911 solution, but where do you start?

Fortunately, there are E911 solutions for every budget and every enterprise configuration. The best place to start is often the simplest. Consider the size of your business and the complexity of your phone network. In most cases, your requirements and budget will be driven by this analysis.

If you are a small business with multiple locations, you now have the option of using a Web-based hosted E911 solution. Hosted solutions take advantage of cloud computing to handle E911 location management and route 911 calls over the Internet without the need for on-premises equipment. After a small service initiation fee, you pay a monthly fee for E911 services. It’s a simple, cost-effective, pay-as-you-go solution that doesn’t require an investment of your hard-earned capital.

A medium-sized business (500 to 5,000 phones) generally has more complex requirements and has more options to meet those needs. On-premises software applications can completely automate the E911 process including tracking phones as they move, updating location databases and notifying security when 911 calls are made. Appliances (servers pre-loaded with E911 software) are a very-cost effective solution to automate E911 in a mid-sized business. Appliances are easy to install, easy to maintain and provide complete E911 automation. If an appliance is combined with an E911 network service, you then have a solution that can track phone locations inside and outside the enterprise and route 911 calls from any location to the right public safety answering point that dispatches emergency response.

Large (5,000 to 30,000 phones) and very large (30,000 to more than 100,000 phones) enterprises typically have multiple PBX (News - Alert)/call servers, robust IP networks, and distributed operations. These enterprises are best served by a combination of on-premises software and an E911 network service for call routing. Highly scalable, highly redundant software solutions are available that can track thousands of phones, whether those phones are inside or outside the enterprise network, and include granular notification systems that will notify specific individuals when a 911 call is made from a particular building or location. An E911 network service can dramatically reduce costs by eliminating the need for local 911 trunking at remote locations by consolidating 911 traffic on IP trunks.

Nick Maier is senior vice president of RedSky (News - Alert) Technologies (

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