Your First E911 Decision? PS-ALI or Third-Party Solution

E911 Watch

Your First E911 Decision? PS-ALI or Third-Party Solution

By TMCnet Special Guest
Nick Maier, SVP RedSky Technologies
  |  November 01, 2010

This article originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY

There are many ways to optimize an organization’s E911 approach to improve the accuracy of location information, reduce costs, simplify maintenance, etc. More often than not, the first decision an organization must face when migrating to a new phone system is whether or not it wants its local exchange carrier to be responsible for getting location records into the LEC’s ALI database, which provides location records (address, floor, room) to a public safety answering point, or PSAP, when a 911 call is received.

The product used by the LECs to handle this life-saving location information is called PS-ALI – or private switch automatic location identification. It has been around for almost 30 years. Historically, buying and setting up a PS-ALI account from a LEC was a painful process. It was difficult for an enterprise to find someone who knew about the product, and the ordering process was hard to navigate. Also, enterprises using more than one LEC had to sign PS-ALI contracts with each provider, and those that use CLECs for dial tone must sign interconnect agreements to get location records into the ALI database.  

Things are beginning to change for the better as some LECs are streamlining the purchasing process and training their field sales personnel about PS-ALI. Also, interfaces to the ALI databases are gradually improving as they adopt XML Web services interfaces so organizations can update location records using the Internet.   However, PS-ALI isn’t ideal for enterprises embracing mobility and its need for real-time location updates to track users on the go. Since ALI records are only updated in the database once every 24 hours, PS-ALI is not a good solution for mobile enterprise (inside and outside the enterprise) using softphones or with teleworkers who work remotely. These users require real-time location updates that can only be serviced by a voice positioning center, which can route 911 calls to any PSAP in the U.S. and Canada based on the location of the caller.    

Decisions, decisions.

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

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Edited by Stefania Viscusi