What Does E911 Really Mean?

E911 Watch

What Does E911 Really Mean?

By Nick Maier, SVP  |  April 25, 2012

This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine.

If you ask people in the communications industry the question: “What does E911 really mean?” you will likely get different answers.

More often than not, even seasoned veterans confuse E911 with public safety answering point equipment. However, PSAP equipment only makes it possible for trained emergency response operators to answer 911 calls and dispatch first responders to a caller in need.  

Most PSAP equipment manufactured over the past 10 years allows these operators to accept the 911 voice call while the PSAP equipment bids for the location record that is associated with the incoming telephone number. This location record is the enhanced part of enhanced 911 – or E911.

No location record, no E911. 

If there is no location record associated with the incoming 911 call stored in the local exchange carrier’s PS-ALI database or in an i2-compliant VoIP positioning center hosted by a third-party provider, it doesn’t matter whether dispatchers have the most sophisticated PSAP equipment in the world. Their screen will show a blank for the location of the caller.

Many large enterprises and government entities with complex building environments have their own on-site PSAP to take and dispatch 911 calls. Military bases and universities are good examples of organizations with these types of environments.

When working with customers like these, we always stress the importance of getting their location data in order and then developing a process to keep it accurate. This is the crux of E911, managing accurate location data.

Once you have good data, you can then turn your attention to your PSAP equipment, which will leverage this accurate location data to help dispatchers send help where it’s needed. 

If you don’t have good location data, you’ve got the cart before the horse and may not be spending your money in the wisest manner.  

Edited by Jennifer Russell