E911 for Cisco Unified Communications

E911 Watch

E911 for Cisco Unified Communications

By Nick Maier, SVP  |  July 23, 2012

This article originally appeared in the July/August issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY

As the enterprise voice market continues its migration toward a more integrated unified communications model that encompasses telephony, unified messaging (e-mail, voicemail, fax, SMS), data sharing, videoconferencing, etc., Cisco (News - Alert) has established its platform as a viable option worthy of inclusion in the majority of RFP shoot-outs. For organizations with Cisco-centric data networks, the company’s IP communications solutions represent a particularly attractive option.  

As with any platform, providing E911 protection to users connected to Cisco voice networks requires careful planning, budgeting and building support among the stakeholders impacted by the project including those responsible for finance, legal and risk management, public safety and security, real estate and IT. 

Cisco Emergency Responder is often considered a go-to E911 solution for Cisco voice networks. However, many well-intentioned IT and telecom pros don’t realize that CER represents only half of an effective E911 solution.

CER is a great solution for tracking the location of SIP and H.323 phones as they move around the enterprise. CER also integrates with Cisco Unified Communication Manager to provide automated location tracking, support for Layer 3 and Layer 2 network discovery and for 911 call notifications.

There are several key aspects of a complete E911 solution that CER does not handle that require assistance from third-party solution providers. These include automatic location information record validation against the Master Street Address Guide used by emergency responders; 911 call routing to deliver the emergency call to the public safety answering point responsible for dispatching help to the caller in need; and 911 call notification to alert on-site responders, security and administration personnel of calls in-progress and the location of the caller.

There are several viable options from E911 providers to bridge this critical gap between CER and a complete E911 solution. These solutions can be deployed as on-premises software or hardware, or as a cloud-based service. The bottom line: You need to select one of these options to provide life-saving E911 protection.

Whether you’re involved with planning a move to unified communications or upgrading your enterprise voice network, don’t forget to include E911 planning in your project plan, and be sure that your specification delivers a complete solution that protects everyone relying on your network.

Nick Maier is senior vice president of RedSky (News - Alert) Technologies (www.redskyE911.com).

Edited by Stefania Viscusi