Navigating E911 in the hybrid workplace
Ensuring 911 calls are properly routed and answered is a challenge that is becoming more complex as companies embrace the cloud and enter the hybrid workplace. One thing that hasn’t changed: The basic requirement is that calls made to 911 emergency call centers reach the appropriate operator and that the operator be able to locate the caller.
Let’s examine what you can do to navigate E911 in a hybrid workplace and ensure compliance.
Editor’s note: This advice does not provide any legal guidance. We recommend that those responsible for 911 location and call routing management consult with appropriate legal counsel to determine the potential risks and liability for their organization.
In the United States, businesses are subject to federal government regulation, as well as state and local government laws. At the federal level, there are two main laws: the Curry Act and the Ray-Baum Act.
The Carey Act, applicable to multi-line phone systems sold, leased, or installed after February 16, 2020, requires that all phones be able to directly dial 911 without requiring users to enter a prefix, such as 8 or 9, to access an outside line. It also requires that appropriate personnel, such as on-site security, be notified when a 911 call is made. Additionally, it mandates that 911 calls sent to an emergency communications center (ECC) or public safety answering point (PSAP) include a valid callback number to enable the operator You can reach the original caller if the call is lost.
The RAY BAUM Act mandates that calls placed to 911 provide a dispatchable location, which the FCC defines as an authorized street address of the calling party, plus additional information, such as the location of an apartment, suite, or office, sufficient to determine the caller’s location.
In many cases, access to the building is restricted, so it is important that security staff at the front desk are aware that a 911 call has been made from inside the building and the physical location of the caller.
Unfortunately, not all companies adhere to the regulations. According to Metrigy’s “Workplace Collaboration 2023-24” study of 440 companies, only 63% of organizations with offices in the United States complied with both the Curry Act and the Ray-Baum Act.
Defining compliance remains an obstacle for many companies. For newly installed platforms or deployed cloud services, compliance means compliance with the Kari Law and the RAY BAUM Law, along with applicable state and local regulations. But for legacy systems, compliance is often a gray area depending on the age of the platform and the date it was last updated. To minimize risks, businesses should consult with appropriate legal counsel.
Fortunately, both unified communications (UC) vendors, as well as third-party software vendors, offer tools that provide compliance while managing employee location and routing 911 calls. These applications range from applications that manage an employee’s location in real-time to applications that ensure location information is shared with On-site staff and ECC/PSAP operators. In cases where a 911 caller cannot be located, the software typically routes the call to a national call center that attempts to locate the caller before contacting the appropriate emergency communications center.
Some unified communications providers support Next Generation 911 (NG911) capabilities, where endpoints learn their location from network components or other devices and then send that information with a 911 call. Emerging NG911 capabilities include sending a text message to 911, where available, and the ability to share Information with first responders, such as exit locations, elevators and even security camera footage. For remote workers, most services require that users configure a submittable location. UC software verifies the address and prompts users to update their location when it detects a change in the network environment.
Mobility emerges as a pain point
The reality for companies trying to ensure E911 compliance is that most 911 calls are made from personal or company-provided cell phones. In these cases, because the call is not handled by the enterprise phone system or UC as a Service (UCaaS) provider, there may be no way to accurately relay the caller’s location or to notify on-site personnel that an emergency call has been made. Some providers — including 911inform — can connect personal or company-provided cell phones to office locations, but these products are not widely deployed. Metrigy found that only 16.1% of companies use third-party platforms to manage 911 calls and location.
New mobile services that connect a native mobile calling app with a company’s UCaaS provider, such as Cisco Webex Go and Microsoft Teams Mobile, also lack the ability to send detailed user location information or notify on-site personnel, which could create new concerns. Related to responsibility. Here again, it is best to consult legal counsel to determine the risks.
Education and tools can help
To help reduce 911 compliance challenges and enable E911 navigation in a hybrid workplace, consider the following steps to reduce risk:
- Ensure compliance with appropriate federal, state and local laws.
- Deploy 911 management tools available from your unified communications providers, supplementing with specialized third-party tools as needed.
- Identify and address risks of cell phone 911 calls.
- Educate users on how to handle 911 calls across all job sites.