Smart911Connect – Changing the Game for MLTS/PBX E911

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For years I have been talking about the E911 problem in the enterprise. It’s my passion for the emergency services industry, coupled with my frustration from the technology side, that drives me forward.

In 2011 at the APCO show in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, emergency service Apps were starting to take hold and become the new technology rave. In the past, many have had similar ideas, however despite their novelty or innovation, none have received any widespread acceptance by the Public Safety industry. As far as understanding “why?” the industry felt this way, I can tell you that based on the information that I have, there hasn’t been a solid single reason.

Smart911_Logo.jpg

But then, in steps Smart911, by Rave Mobile Safety from Framingham Massachusetts. Smart911 supports PSAP’s in 28 states that serve more than 300 municipalities, protecting millions of citizens. With Smart911 citizens can create their own safety profiles online that contain details they would like to see displayed to the 911 dispatcher when their device originates a call. Instead of forcing the 911 operator in the PSAP to rely on ANI (your telephone number) received with the call, and forcing them to query the telco database to return location data that is stored against that telephone number (ALI), with Smart911 installed in the PSAP, the entire location conveyance process is drastically changed. With a Smart911 enabled PSAP, the Smart911 database is dynamically queried for each call arriving at the 911 center. When a match of the telephone number, pushes that all of this additional detail and information directly to the 911 dispatcher. So how does this affect, or better yet benefit, my PBX deployment?

MLTS/PBX E911 configuration has always, been considered as, a bit of a “black art”. Understanding how E911 works, is just as cryptic for many users. When you put the two together, it’s not difficult understand why you will have varying configurations both across networks of partners, or maybe even a single user swearing that there “PBX is possessed”, based on the way that its operating. Another challenge for enterprise class users, is getting relevant data to a 911 call taker. Although technology and automation exists to track user moves, quite often identifying to a IP subnet is not granular enough for either internal or external responders. Likewise, reporting to a very specific granular level can have the same affect. “HELP! I having chest pains, and I and in cube 2C231 in the 1527 Main St. building!”

Although that seems very detailed, it actually is not as the 911 dispatcher has no idea where cube 2C231 is located in the building. Not until now at least. You see, Smart911Connect is a comprehensive program based on the patented Smart911 platform. Its job is to provide the very first open, standards-based programming interface for third parties to deliver diverse data sets to 911 centers. The value for the enterprise PBX customer, comes from the Avaya DevConnect ecosystem of partners. No longer are localized 911 applications within the enterprise limited to archaic legacy 911 database entries (ANI/ALI) that are often difficult to maintain with accurate information in a timely manner without incurring a significant cost overhead. The enterprise can now take the intelligence that already exists in their network, and provided to Smart911, where it is in turn provided to the 911 call taker over an encrypted secure link.

In addition to Smart911Connect gaining widespread acceptance and support from PSAP’s, it is also received recognition within the industry from many leaving solution vendors including Avaya DevConnect Select Product Partner, Conveyant Systems.

Sentry_Select.png

“Effectively delivering detailed real-time data on emergency callers from within a corporate campus has not been possible until now,” said Tim Kenyon ENP, president of Conveyant Systems, a Smart911Connect data partner and supplier of the SENTRY 911 ELM solution and TeleDirectory PC-based operator consoles for the enterprise. “Combining our Sentry solution with the Smart911Connect platform exposes relevant real-time MLTS/PBX data from enterprise networks, providing [emergency 911] call takers with exact location within a large campus, and response instructions specific to that locale. As a result the issues and expense with inaccurate and static private switch automatic location information (PS-ALI) can finally be eliminated.”

On the public safety side, Smart911Connect is already partnering with Cassidian Communications, manufacturers of CTI integration products for 911 call centers, and network provider Telecommunication Systems Inc. (TCS), who is also a leading player in the industry for text to 911 initiatives recently announced by the Federal Communications Commission.

While many in the industry are worrying how to bridge the technology gap between today’s archaic analog-based, voice only 911 network, and tomorrow’s framework of a NENA i3, environment, Smart911, Conveyant, TCS and others, took the action to deliver this new level of data to ANY PSAP today, using technology available today, at a price point that is affordable, and often less than what enterprises are paying today. Next Generation 911 networks are well underway, and in the deployment stage. Even though there is no question that NG 911 networks will become widespread in the next 3 to 5 years, there is no longer any reason to delay the deployment of technology such as this right now.

Smart911 Topology.jpg

The model above is simple.
(1) Caller ID/ANI is delivered over the network as it does TODAY
(2) A Smart911 enabled PSAP queries the Smart911 network for matching ANI
(3) If a match exists, Smart911 queries the relevant SENTRY Server in the MLTS environment
(4) The additional data is then conveyed to the 911 Call Taker.

Building the NG911 network of tomorrow is very similar to building, or should I say replacing, and old tired bridge over a river. We can’t take the old one down, to put a new one in its place because of heavy commuter traffic, and we’ve repaired it time and time again to make it last. At some point you need to build the new bridge while you continue to use the old bridge. When the new bridge is done, is simply divert the traffic, and if you’ve done your job correctly, the traffic jams for commuters become a thing of the past.

I feel this is the way NG911 should be built as well. Why not deploy technology such as Smart911, as I consider that “low hanging fruit” with a dramatic increase in technology and situational awareness for several communities of users. If you want more information on the Rave Mobile Safety Smart911 solution, you can find them on the web at www.smart911connect.com. You can also find Avaya DevConnect Select Product partner Conveyant Systems, in the Avaya DevConnect marketplace at www.devconnectmarketplace.com where you can find information on their Sentry product, and integration with Smart911Connect, as well as a listing of all partners in the Avaya DevConnect ecosystem.

Want more on the Enterprise side of this?
Don’t forget to join me on February 20, where IAUG and Avaya will be hosting a webinar specifically taking a deep dive into this new environment for enterprises. Be sure to check out the IAUG website at www.IAUG.org for more details. You can also follow me on Twitter under #APNpodcast and @Fletch911, and you’ll also find my colleague Guy Clinch and his weekly podcast, Avaya Tech Talk. You can follow Guy on Twitter, @Gclinch.

Thanks for reading the Avaya CONNECTED Blog! We’ll see you next week!


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Thanks for stopping by and reading the Avaya CONNECTED Blog on E9-1-1, I value your opinions, so please feel free to comment below or if you prefer, you can email me privately.

Public comments, suggestions, corrections and loose change is all graciously accepted 😉
Until next week. . . dial carefully.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

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Kari's Lil' Hero

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is also available as an MP3 Audio File


What makes a hero? What drives that special person to do that special thing, at that special time? Whatever it is, it can be found in anybody, including a nine-year-old girl.

On December 1, 2013 several people’s lives changed forever. A step-mother and father lost their daughter of 31 years, and three children lost their loving mother right in front of their eyes. I’ve blogged about this story several times, covering the technology shortcomings, the disparate legislative dilemma that exists in the US, and have communicated this story in person to Commissioner Ajit Pai, as well as an open letter to newly appointed FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

While I’ve been in touch with Kari’s father, Hank Hunt, through Social Media and Facebook, on Saturday I had an opportunity to speak with him live to convey my thoughts from my meeting at the FCC on Friday. Hank, his wife and other family members are caring for the three grandchildren, whose names will remain private, so we will call the eldest of the siblings “Kari’s Lil’ Hero”.

As part of my presentation to the FCC, I wanted to take the opportunity to let Hank deliver a message to the commissioner and his staff. That message was:

The quote on Kari’s grave marker will be, “She loved with purpose”.
In kind, this mandate should be implemented with purpose.

In the words of Kari’s father, Hank Hunt:

“It’s hard to describe the things that go through my head when I think about that day. Did she suffer much? Did she fight back? Did she know she was going to die, and if she did, did she cry for me to help her?

Torturing questions I can’t get out of my head.

But, the most bothersome thought is what my grand daughter was hearing while she tried to dial 911. What was this 9 year old thinking, hearing, all while trying to get help and push her younger siblings to safety. We have repeatedly told her that she did right, that she is the “hero” of all this but while she smiles at that, her eyes go to the floor as if she’s wondering if what we are telling her is true.”

One of the things that I can’t get out of my head is the fact that for some reason “Kari’s Lil’ Hero” doubts her actions of that day. But after all, she’s nine years old. She doesn’t understand what a PBX is, and she has been told her entire life that in an emergency you dial 9-1-1. Despite the horror that was going on in front of her, she did just that. After all, she’s “Kari’s Lil’ Hero”.

When she tried to dial again, the call still didn’t go through, so she came up with Plan B. She huddled her two younger siblings together, and despite the horror that was happening in front of her she rushed them into the hallway to safety. After all, she’s “Kari’s Lil’ Hero”..

She tried to communicate with some housekeeping staff, but there was a language barrier, so it was time for plan C. After all, she’s “Kari’s Lil’ Hero”..

After knocking on the door of another room, she finally found help who was able to dial 911 and protect her and her younger siblings. After all, she’s “Kari’s Lil’ Hero”..

I can barely contain my emotion when I think about this little girl, and all that she did that fateful day. She did all the right things; it was the implementation of the technology that failed her. But her actions that day very well may have saved the lives of her two siblings, as well as her own. In addition to improving technology, and providing ubiquitous access to emergency services by dialing 911, another thing that we as an industry can fix is the self-esteem of a brave little nine-year-old.

After all, she’s “Kari’s Lil’ Hero”.

Let her know that by telling her so at: https://www.facebook.com/changeitforkari

The petition for Kari’s Law can be signed online at:
http://change.org/KarisLaw

A Give Forward Campaign supporting Kari’s children is at:
https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/ybl3/kari-hunt-s-children


Want more Technology, News and Information from Avaya? Be sure to check out the Avaya Podcast Network landing page at http://avaya.com/APN . There you will find additional Podcasts from Industry Events such as Avaya Evolutions and INTEROP, as well as other informative series by the APN Staff.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading the Avaya CONNECTED Blog on E9-1-1, I value your opinions, so please feel free to comment below or if you prefer, you can email me privately.

Public comments, suggestions, corrections and loose change is all graciously accepted 😉
Until next week. . . dial carefully.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

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Hotel E911 Check-Up for Owners and Guests

This Avaya CONNECTED Blog
is also available as an MP3 Audio File


Tragedy always brings out awareness. Would you know what to do if you needed to dial 911 from your hotel room? If you operate a hotel, have you considered what guests need to do to place an emergency call? In many cases, too little or nothing has been done, or what were thought to be “best practices” are, in reality, not such a great idea according to the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and their model legislation for multiline telephone systems (MLTS/PBX).

Here’s a handy little Hotel 911 Check-up that you can do yourself.

Defining the Problem:
Before you can come up with a solution, you need to define the problem. The problem of 911 in MLTS/PBX systems, can be one that is very convoluted with many different facets depending on the environment. When we look at the hotel motel industry, this is a very simple E911 implementation environment, that doesn’t carry the extra baggage of location discovery, FCE data center environments, and work at home VPN users that a normal commercial enterprise MLTS PBX may have.

SOLUTION 1: Dialing 911 WITHOUT an access code (9-911)
In an emergency, we are all taught at a very early age to dial the digits 911 to reach police, fire or medical assistance. While we as adults may understand that dialing “9” for an outside line might be common practice, think about those that do not use a telephone on a large PBX, or a child, as in the case of the recent tragedy in East Texas that has sparked national attention.

Check out these pictures of good and bad Hotel placards contributed here.

The fact of the matter is that most modern PBX systems today can accommodate dialing 911 as well as 9 – 911, therefore in most cases, this should not even be an issue as it’s a matter of turning on a feature that is already there.

SOLUTION 2: On Site Notification
When dialing 911, time is usually of the essence. Help is needed for a medical emergency, or a physical assault. When hotel staff are alerted that a guest has dialed 911, they can then respond immediately while emergency services are in route to the location. They can assist with AED (automatic electronic defibrillator) devices, provide life-saving CPR, or the Heimlich maneuver, or their sheer presence may disrupt a physical assault just enough to make a difference, once again something that may have helped Kari Hunt when she was brutally attacked and murdered in her hotel room in East Texas.

SOLUTION 3: Getting the call to the 911 center
This is the one that often confuses people. Why? Because sometimes MLTS PBX systems, are programmed to redirect the 911 call to the hotel operator. In other cases, emergency numbers are advertised on the hotel room phones. There are several examples of hotel placards that instruct guests to dial a special internal number, or dial the operator in the event of an emergency. What people don’t realize is that by doing this, the caller is being delayed access to trained emergency dispatchers, who are equipped not only to dispatch emergency services to the location, but provide life saving instructions on everything from severe lacerations, CPR, and even childbirth.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Since 911 identifies the caller’s location based on the originating telephone number, unless a hotel motel has dedicated telephone numbers in each room, there is no easy way to signal to the PSAP or 911 center the originating room. At least not a way that is operationally manageable.

This goes back to solution number 2, where on-site notification becomes a critical factor. In the past, the common practice for MLTS PBX systems has been to manage what is known as the ALI database. This is also where the bulk of the expense of solutions has come from. When we step back from the problem, just a little bit, getting emergency services EN ROUTE to the proper address is the primary focus. When we couple that with on-site notification, not only can hotel staff assist prior to the arrival of emergency services if possible, they can certainly be expecting them, and direct them immediately to the location of the incident.

This practice allows a hotel motel to be responsive to the emergency situation, without any added expense in most cases, as these are common features found in most PBX systems today.

When you’re a guest in a hotel, take notice of your environment. Make sure you understand how to summon emergency services by making a mental checklist of these important items:

1. How do I dial 911? Do I need an access code? Make sure that you know this in advance.
2. What is the address of the hotel?(Hint: it’s usually printed on the telephone itself)
3. On what floor of the hotel is your room located?(Hint: it’s usually the first digit of your hotel room number)
4. What’s your room number?Although this may sound silly, it may not be on your telephone.
5. Understand how to get out of the building in the event of a fire or emergency.

PBX OWNERS – DON’T FORGET TESTING!
Putting a system in place, without testing it could be as good is not having a system that all. But just how do you go about testing 911 without tying up valuable resources?

The very first step in testing for 911, is to get out the telephone book. Remember those?
If you can’t find one, go on the Internet in search for the police department in your local municipality.

Once you have found the administrative or non-emergency telephone number listing, call them and explain that you would like to test a 911 call from your facility to ensure the proper information was being displayed to the 911 call taker.

Each municipality may have explicit test instructions that you need to follow, as well as specific testing times and procedures. Follow those procedures, but you may also want to schedule a visit from your PBX maintenance provider to address any concerns that come out of that testing. It’s also a good idea for them to review the configuration of your PBX, and ensure that the 911 programming has been properly established. There is no sense in testing unless you think you are going to pass.

While these might sound like simple things, it’s amazing what you will forget in an emergency, and reacting to these things during the emergency is just not going to happen. Most people simply react to what we’ve been taught. What we have been taught is to dial 911, and that’s why 9-911 may never come to mind.


Want more Technology, News and Information from Avaya? Be sure to check out the Avaya Podcast Network landing page at http://avaya.com/APN . There you will find additional Podcasts from Industry Events such as Avaya Evolutions and INTEROP, as well as other informative series by the APN Staff.

APN Blog Banner

Thanks for stopping by and reading the Avaya CONNECTED Blog on E9-1-1, I value your opinions, so please feel free to comment below or if you prefer, you can email me privately.

Public comments, suggestions, corrections and loose change is all graciously accepted 😉
Until next week. . . dial carefully.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

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MLTS 9-1-1 Bad Practices

This Avaya CONNECTED Blog
is also available as an MP3 Audio File


While many of the podcasts and lists that we create focus on how to do something or a best practice, of equal value are lists of how NOT to do something. With the recent tragedy on December 1, 2013 in Marshall, Texas, the nine-year-old daughter of Kari Hunt watched as her mother was stabbed to death by her estranged husband in a hotel room. Allegedly the nine-year-old tried to dial 9-1-1 from the hotel room phone, but was unable to due to a 9 being required for an outside line.

This incident has sparked a number of comments, some of which are good common sense, and others that may sound logical, but when you look closely at the problem, it becomes clear that these may not be good choices.

Placards
178-Dial9911.gifProbably the most common knee-jerk reaction that I hear is to put a sticker on the phone that says Dial 9 9-1-1 for emergencies. The problem with placards is that you are assuming everyone’s primary language is English which is not the case, you are assuming that someone will read the placard, and don’t forget about persons who are blind, and you have the case where a small child may know to dial 9-1-1, but may not be able to read, hence rendering the placards useless.

Dialing 8 for an outside line instead of 9
178-Dial8.gifThere is a popular belief that the reason you cannot dial 9-1-1 directly from a telephone behind PBX is because 9 is used to make an outgoing call, therefore conflicting with 9-1-1. While this may have been true many years ago, it simply is no longer the case in most modern communications telephone systems. In the past, 9 would connect you to a trunk, where you would then dial the digits you needed. Most PBX telephone systems today collect all of the dialed digits, analyze them for routing and authorization, and then select a telephone trunk to place the call. While some programming is typically needed, dealing with 9-1-1 directly and 9 9-1-1 is a simple administrative task that should have been taken care of by the telephone installer. The fix is to allow 9-1-1 to reach 9-1-1.

Locally terminating 9-1-1
178-LTERM.jpgA common request by many large corporate entities is to redirect 9-1-1 calls to a local security desk where the calls are answered internally. It’s commonly assumed that on-site individuals are better equipped to deal with an emergency, and can do so faster. This is a fatal assumption to make for several reasons. Unless the position where you are terminating the 9-1-1 calls is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and has the ability to handle multiple simultaneous calls, you are potentially exposing an internal 9-1-1 caller to the risk of not having their call answered. Additionally, public safety 9-1-1 dispatchers are typically certified as an EMD or emergency medical dispatcher. They have been trained to deal with emergencies, and can provide basic instructions that can provide a little bit of breathing room in the response. For example, if someone is choking they can provide instructions on how to perform the Heimlich maneuver. If someone is bleeding they can provide basic first aid instructions that can give first responders precious extra minutes to get to the scene.

Confusing and unclear 9-1-1 legislation
178-CPUC911.pngQuite often 9-1-1 laws have been made in a vacuum, without input from industry technologists. Because of this, the legislation that exists in the 18 states that have it can be unclear or ineffective. The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) published model legislation in 2008. This legislation was crafted by industry experts and public safety representatives to provide a baseline of functionality for owners and operators of multi-line telephone systems (MLTS/PBX). Those baseline functions have been used in recent states like California in their pending legislation. The NENA MLTS Model Legislation suggests:

Access to 9-1-1 with and without a trunk access code
178-Num9.gifDialing plan conflicts are often no longer an issue with modern communications systems. People are taught to down 9-1-1 from a very young age. It’s critical that this functionality carries forward on all devices, regardless of what they’re attached to.

Location granularity aligning with fire alarm zones
178-FloorPlan.pngOne of the common areas of discussion around emergency calling from behind a PBX, is what specific granularity of location should be provided to the Public Safety Answer Position (PSAP). You would immediately think that the most granular information is the best. What you need to stop and realize is while cubicle 2C231 may be extremely relevant to people within the building, public safety first responders do not carry floor plans, and this extraneous information means nothing to them. Before a first responder can provide assistance, they need to be able to arrive at the right building, and right entrance way. Once they get there, local on-site responders should be well aware that there coming, and also should have knowledge that a 9-1-1 call has taken place, so they can take proactive steps in providing access, or even first aid while public safety is in route.

On-site notification of 9-1-1 call events
178_POP.pngThis functionality, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, is really the key to “situational awareness” that an event is, or has, taken place. It allows internal responders to confirm and assist the person who has dialed 9-1-1, and provides notice that first responders are on the way so that preparations can be made. This includes ensuring access doors are unlocked, elevators are available and hallways are unobstructed.

There is a large misnomer in the industry that E9-1-1 functionality in a PBX is one that is expensive to implement, and administratively difficult to maintain. This is a remnant from companies with technologies designed to manage user mobility in the public safety PS-ALI database. By removing the requirement to manage at the station level, with information that is cryptic and not useful to public safety, the cost of the solution is significantly reduced as the simplicity is significantly increased.

With increased simplicity, there is a more likely chance of deployment. Within more likely chance of deployment, incidents similar to what happened in Marshall, Texas can become a thing of the past.

Don’t get caught up in the hype. Barging in on a 9-1-1 call, or locally recording a 9-1-1 call, or interfering with the 9-1-1 call path are all knee-jerk reactions that are not considered best practices by the industry. Providing situational awareness in ease of access to 9-1-1 are things that are both built into most PBX systems today and that’s where the focus on 9-1-1 should be.


Want more Technology, News and Information from Avaya? Be sure to check out the Avaya Podcast Network landing page at http://avaya.com/APN . There you will find additional Podcasts from Industry Events such as Avaya Evolutions and INTEROP, as well as other informative series by the APN Staff.

APN Blog Banner

Thanks for stopping by and reading the Avaya CONNECTED Blog, I value your opinions, so please feel free to comment below or if you prefer, you can email me privately.

Public comments, suggestions, corrections and loose change is all graciously accepted 😉
Until next week. . . dial carefully.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

Fletch_Sig.png 


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CacheFly is the world’s fastest CDN, delivering rich-media content up to 10x faster than traditional delivery methods. With a proven track record and over a decade’s worth of CDN experience, companies around the world choose the CacheFly CDN for reliable and unbeatable performance. For more information, visit www.cachefly.com