California Moves Forward on MLTS E911

CPUC-MLTS LogoCalifornia MLTS Legislation took another step forward this week after a unanimous vote in the Assembly on Bill CA911 that would provide a legislative directive, with penalties for non-compliance, on Multi Line Telephone System deployments (PBX systems) serving areas greater than 7,000 square feet.

Frequent APN Podcast guest and attorney Martha Buyer joins me once again, earning the title of ‘APN Legal Correspondent’, and is joined by Byron Battles, principal of the Battles Group. Byron is a former President of the Society of Telecommunications Consultants, and is well respected by many in the industry, myself included.

A full transcript is provided below,
as well as the MP3 Audio available here:
http://fletch.cachefly.net/E911Talk2013/Episode144_CaliLeg.mp3


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Spyder Harrison – VO Dude
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Mark Fletcher:
California moves one step closer to MLTS legislation. Find out more on the next E911 Talk Podcast Episode 144, recorded Friday, May 24, 2013.

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Spyder Harrison – VO Dude
Welcome to this edition of E911 Talk with your host, Mark Fletcher, Product Line Manager for Emergency Services at Avaya. Now here’s Fletch.

Mark Fletcher:
Hi, everyone. It’s Fletch with the E911 Talk Podcast and joining me today is APN legal correspondent Martha Buyer. You don’t mind that I gave you that title, do you Martha?

Martha Buyer
Martha Buyer
I’m honoured by it. No, I think it’s delightful.

Mark Fletcher:
And also joining us is a consultant from the Battles Group, Byron Battles. Byron, how are you today? Thanks again for joining us.

ByronBattles.png
Byron Battles:
Very well. Thank you very much.

Mark Fletcher:
I called this two industry experts together because in my email box this morning showed up another bit of information about California Legislation. So Martha, this is something that you and I are both been tracking quite a bit and there’s been some recent turn of events in California. Why don’t you tell us what those are?

Martha Buyer
Martha Buyer
Well, it looks like the legislation is working into it through the process to get ultimately to the California legislature. Most recently, the legislation was presented to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations which is where the money comes from and it was voted on and it was voted 15 to nothing to move it ahead. So this is a step forward but it’s not going to happen at lightning speed even if this makes it to the legislature for a complete vote by the end of the term which is what the person who’s sponsoring it told me they hoped would happen. It wouldn’t become effective until January 1, 2019, big window for compliance.

Mark Fletcher:
So what are some of the highlights? What are they looking to accomplish? I know that they talked about location accuracy and a few other things.

Martha Buyer
Martha Buyer
Well I think to me, there are two very interesting things in terms of who’s not covered by it and that is, it does not apply to buildings or structures that are under 7,000 sq. ft. or in those areas in the State of California where enhanced 911 services are not available. So that certainly takes out a lot of your small business and maybe a good chunk of small and medium business, as well as residential providers of telephone service.

Mark Fletcher:
And that’s really not too much of a problem because if you’re under 7,000 sq. ft. I don’t think you really have much of a location problem unless you’re multiple stories.

Martha Buyer
Martha Buyer
Right. Right, that’s true. But otherwise, they would say, it’s fairly generic. It requires an MLTS operator in an area that has enhanced 911-capability to maintain and operate the MLTS as specified to ensure that each emergency calls placed from a telephone space and on the system is routed to the public safety answering point. That’s not very specific. I expect a lot of these details are going to get hammered out as we go forward. But a bill listing is very interesting in the bill reactors stand and remember this is in front of the Appropriations Committee is that the fiscal effect which is underlined in the bill as it stands does minor observable cost to the PUC, very nice. That for them MLTS providers I supposed like to hear. It’s not going to be their expense. The big challenge will be on the state side.

Mark Fletcher:
Well yeah, that I think is a really important part. And again, the fact that they rule out people under 7,000 sq. ft. rules out your small and small-medium businesses from having to do anything. I think it’s really targeted at the larger enterprises, multiple buildings, multiple stories. So Byron, you are a consultant in the space and I know you take 911 very seriously. Your past president of STC which is a tremendous title to have right there but I know that you take 911 very seriously because I’ve had to present in front of you for some of your customers. What’s your take on this?

ByronBattles.png
Byron Battles:
It’s interesting the timing on this because we actually have a client that Martha has been doing some research for that. It’s a single site but what we found as consultants in the last 5 years that organizations are taking 911 and E911 much more seriously and looking at it much more closely. The reason being is because of the pending legislation a variety of state, they need to provide that location information and even though this particular client has just single site and would probably be exempted in California, it has other locations in DC and Maryland that it has already rolled out E911. So it was to provide the state environment for all of its employees not just the one where it’s legislated or soon to be legislated by law. So we’re trying that the client and we as consultants has to be much more cognizant to the E911. We have to understand not only the technology behind it but how is it going to work within any specific organization, how big is it, how closely do they want to pinpoint where the medical or emergency is taking place and how is the call going to be conveyed to not only public first responders but the internal security if there is one.

Mark Fletcher:
Yes. So one of the things that impress me the most when I was dealing with you where I had to present to you was that you chose to include 911 in the initial RFI and RFP responses but you made it very clear that that particular section was kind of going to go through its own due diligence at a later point in time and that was because the network hadn’t really been established yet and you got to know what the network is going to look like. And I thought that was such a proactive stands to see from a consultant. I wish more people would do that.

ByronBattles.png
Byron Battles:
We feel like in any converged types of solution, the network is the road on which all the applications go. And even though it’s not the most glamorous part of that solution, it’s the most essential part.

Mark Fletcher:
Excellent information. Martha, any closing thoughts?

Martha Buyer
Martha Buyer
No, I think he has covered it. I mean, you know I wouldn’t tell anyone to panic. First of all, this hasn’t passed to legislature yet. It hasn’t become law but it’s certainly working its way in that direction and it’s doing so at a reasonably good clip. So I would say, “Stay tuned.”

Mark Fletcher:
And as always, it’s 911. It’s life safety. You should be looking at this anyway and this is just another proof point that it is coming again in another state. And again, maybe the language needs to be tightened up but still there’s this plenty of time for that to happen, so definitely stay tuned. Again, we’re talking with APN legal correspondent Martha Buyer. We appreciate you joining us today. And also, Byron Battles from the Battles Group. Byron, thank you very much. First time on the podcast and we’ll be talking to you at the Avaya IAUG Show in Orlando hopefully in a few weeks. Thanks for joining us today on this podcast.

ByronBattles.png
Byron Battles:
Thanks. Very well.

Martha Buyer
Martha Buyer
Thanks, Fletch.

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Spyder Harrison – VO Dude
You’re listening to APN, the Avaya Podcast Network. Find us on the web at Avaya.com/APN.

End of Transcription [00:07:25.07]


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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

This Avaya CONNECTED Blog
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.

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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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

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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 


CacheFly LogoAPN is Powered by Cachefly
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