911 Answer Delays – Ready, Set, NO!

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is also available as an MP3 Audio File


Nobody likes to wait for anything, especially for a 911 call taker during an emergency, and 911 Center Public Safety Answer Points (PSAP) Average Call Answer Times have been under scrutiny lately in several states. But before you throw the baby out with the bath water and criticize 911 Call Taker efficiency, you need to validate the data.

Before you measure something, you need to define where you start measuring. For example, when you run a foot race, whether it’s 50 yards, or 5 km, there is a distinctive starting point and finishing point to the race. The clock starts when you cross the start line, and stops when you cross the finish. This sounds logical right? Looking at statistics for emergency calls, is no different; as long as you understand where the clock started, and why.

While discussing average answer times with a colleague this past week, a point came out in the conversation that created a significant amount of confusion around this very topic. In an emergency seconds matter and as it turns out, some emergency dispatchers were being penalized by not meeting a state-mandated answer time. Other agencies were accused of “fudging the numbers” in an effort to make their statistics fall within acceptable guidelines. While looking at the data, however, it became very apparent that the REAL problem was potentially no one was paying attention to when the clock started, only when it ended.

MSN: A 911 response in Detroit takes how long?
San Diego County’s 9-1-1 Communications Home Page


Cattarin-Gary_LG.jpgSo imagine yourself running a five-minute mile, only to find out later that your time was actually 10 minutes because the clock started while you are tying your shoes. Not really too fair, right? Well, the same goes with 911. For those that have asked for more ‘tech content’, here you go. For the rest of you, you’re welcome to read on, especially if it’s bedtime and your looking for a natural sleeping aid!


The Anatomy Of a 911 Call
Unless you’ve listened to the trunk side of a 911 call, you might be slightly astonished at the archaic analog nature of getting a call from Point A to Point B. About two years ago, I was fortunate enough to receive an audio clip from a 911 call that I quite often use for training purposes; as it highlights several points that otherwise aren’t very obvious.

911 Call Pre-amble: Getting Ready To Get Ready
911 CAMA trunks that connect the PSAP to the 911 Tandem central office, are specialized analog circuits similar to Centrex lines. When a call is presented to them from the 911 network, this signaling mechanism is not ringing voltage, as found on a normal telephone line. The central office will “wink” towards the PSAP by applying reverse battery on the circuit. The PBX will then “wink” back towards the central office confirming its readiness to accept a call. The central office will then “wink” back at the PBX confirming that the response was received, and digits will be coming down the line.

When you look at audio as a sound wave, these “winks” are clearly noticeable as a sharp spike in the audio file and can even be heard as a loud click on the line.

In this example you can clearly see the three winks at the very beginning of the call, and if you are measuring answer time from the central office side, this would be a likely spot to start counting from zero.

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At this point in time, the audio path is now open between the central office and the 911 PSAP call taking equipment. The central office then signals to the CPE equipment in band information using Multi-Frequency tones for digits and specialize signaling characters to indicate the pANI of the inbound 911 call. Depending on the area, and the carrier, the ANI that is received could be 7 (NNX-XXXX), 8 (I-NNX-XXXX), or 10 digits (NPA-NNX-XXXX)in length. Once again, looking at our example audio, the MF tones are clearly discernible in the audio wave.

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You will also notice that there is another audio spike, which is the PBX signaling a “wink” back to the central office acknowledging receipt and acceptance of the ANI information. It also serves as a go-ahead signal for the central office to open up the audio channel between the original caller and the PSAP.

At this point, based on the audio in this example, the PBX applies ringing to the line, and you can see the abrupt change in audio as the callers audio is now also patched through.

As an interesting side note, what has happened up until this point is fairly critical in processing and delivering the 911 call to the PSAP. I have seen cases in the past where adjunct equipment has been installed on the CAMA trunks to capture the ANI information and send it over to the CPE 911 equipment for processing. But, because they are signaling back to the central office was not in proper sequence, they returned answer supervision to early to the central office and the callers audio actually corrupted the receipt of the MF tones. In fact, as it turns out a woman screaming can often mimic an MF tone, causing the system to process garbage data and potentially make the call fail.

Another interesting thing happens at this point, and that is the CPE equipment now is aware of the call, and has the information required to process it, and typically generates a Call Detail Reporting (CDR) start record. Once again another potential starting point for the call. The only problem here, is that this starting point is three seconds out of sync with the central office starting point.

The next step in the sequence would be for the CPE or PBX to process the call, and deliver it to a 911 call taker. After analyzing and listing closely to this sample recording, it appears that the 911 call taker answered the line immediately after the first ring (and remember a ring cycle is to second on followed by four seconds of silence). Since we cannot see or hear the second ring, we can assume that the call was picked up almost immediately after the first ring, and in fact you can see a small blip of audio when the line is connected, which is immediately followed by the dispatcher saying “911 what is the location of your emergency?”

160-03.jpg

At this point on the timeline, nine seconds has now passed from when the central office initiated the call, yet depending where the starting point is, can significantly skew the data, and the dispatcher could actually be penalized for a nine second delay
when in fact they answered the call within two seconds of it being presented to them.

Keeping it fair for everyone
let’s face it, we certainly want to make sure that our nation’s public safety operators are doing their job, and are performing within the excepted national specifications. What we have to be careful of though is to make sure that we are not penalizing them by looking at bad data.


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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Join Us in Vegas for the Best Dice Roll Ever! #AvayaENGAGE 2017

There was a time when a handshake meant more than a text, when being in the same room meant more than an email. While advancements in communication have made our ability to interact easier, I believe in-person events are still a unique, positive and necessary way to connect with people.

Over the past several months, we’ve been hard at work bringing our Avaya customer and partner events under one umbrella. Our collective efforts will result in the consolidation of the Avaya Technology Forum, International Avaya Users Group and Executive Partner Forum into the single largest gathering of Avaya users everywhere: Better Together: Avaya ENGAGE 2017. This flagship experience—the only big top event we’ll host in 2017—will let us connect deeply with customers. We’ll start meaningful conversations, communicate with empathy and understanding, and respond to their needs with unique and personalized solutions. (Read my recent blog on the importance of personalization in delivering amazing customer experiences.) I can assure you that these types of impactful, memorable and emotional connections cannot be accomplished in 140 characters or less!

When customers join us this February in Las Vegas—the entertainment capital of the world—they’ll be introduced to a thoughtfully constructed agenda designed to engage, enlighten and empower them to tackle real-world business challenges. But they won’t go through the week alone. Our business leaders and subject matter experts will be on hand to humanize their experiences and guide them through their customer journey every step of the way.

With compelling keynotes from our executive team and close to 100 conference workshops, opportunities to expand knowledge, sharpen skills, and hear best practices from Avaya experts, industry visionaries, partners, and business communication peers will be around every corner.

To give you a taste of what to expect, take a look at some of our keynotes out of #AvayaENGAGE Dubai.

More Than 2,000 Customers Can’t Be Wrong!

#AvayaENGAGE is the definitive Avaya training event. And with the timing of this event now taking place earlier in the year, you can bet there will be more than a few surprises, which means you’ll be at the heart of emerging conversations and discussions with key players in our Avaya ecosystem.

I’m personally looking forward to this event, and I hope you’ll join me in Las Vegas, February 12-15. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my career (and I’ve learned quite a few) is when we partner closely together with our customers and partners, we emerge better and stronger. I expect that outcome from #AvayaENGAGE.

Avaya Predictions for 2017 Services Trends: Top Focus is on Smart Customer-Centric Engagement

Recently, we asked six Avaya services experts to help us reflect on the past year and to peer ahead into 2017. Our panel:

  • Richard English, Managing Director, Avaya Professional Services
  • Camille Lewis, Product Management Director, Avaya Client Services
  • Barbara Sidari, Customer Engagement and Executive Cadence, Avaya Client Services
  • Thomas Brennan, Vice President of global support services, private cloud and managed services delivery
  • Michael Sale, Director Online Engagement, Avaya Client Services
  • Dan Pratt, Senior Director, Business Transformation and Strategy, Avaya Client Services

According to our six experts, our predictions for these 2016 trends proved to be spot on—and they will continue to be a force in 2017:

  • Use of hybrid/private cloud

    will continue to dominate for large enterprises until public cloud providers can demonstrate that compliance to privacy/security regulations such as HIPAA can be achieved. However, Public Cloud is quickly becoming a flexible and effective delivery model for the midmarket.

  • A flexible delivery model

    to achieve growth in modular steps that helps IT maximize ROI and support rapid business scaling has been, and will continue to be, extremely successful. Taking some of the burden off the enterprise enables IT managers to focus on more strategic corporate initiatives.

  • The need for person-to-person human touch

    will continue to rise. It will become critical in 2017 as unassisted support and self-healing systems grow smarter in identifying trends and problems before they happen and engage in machine-to-machine maintenance for resolution. The use of video will be more widely used, providing personalization and higher customer satisfaction.

The panel thinks that 2017 will mean an increasing focus on smart customer centric engagement when it comes to service. In 2017, it’s all about using analytics and even smarter technology to increase customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores, loyalty and revenue—and to achieve a better return on investment.

The Avaya panel sees these three trends emerging in 2017:

  • Transforming legacy systems and increased customer use of omnichannel will streamline the customer journey to increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and revenue.

    For example, many retailers will transform their Contact Centers into profit centers. The shopping experience for their customers starts on the mobile device or web-based applications—retailers want it to end with an order placed. The customer will experience a seamless transition from mobile to voice (or to web chat or video) without having to repeat who they are and what they want to purchase. The agent will already know the value of the customer to their company and will provide a personalized shopping experience.

  • Analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), and big data will enhance the experience of the Customer Journey.

    The predictive and preemptive active workflow will match people to people, machine to machine, as preferred by the customer for maximum satisfaction and profit. For instance, service vendors will use data captured from customer service requests, alarms, outage history, and project volume to identify risks and take appropriate actions to proactively mitigate issues. Utility companies can leverage web-based applications to proactively communicate to customers the status of affected service areas via maps on smart phones, reducing the burden of customers calling the service center to report an outage. Similarly alarm companies will analyze alarms and preemptively fix them before the consumer arrives home.

  • Demand for holistic application service management will grow as siloed and disparate cloud applications shift focus from managing assets in the field to delivering on business processes.

    Enterprises will need a dashboard that provides a single pane view by business process vs CPU performance. The workforce needs to be trained to leverage all the data in a way that includes human touch.

The year 2017 promises to be very exciting as service transforms and demonstrates its value by preemptively fixing issues before they become problems. It is imperative that knowing the customer and providing what they want, as well as the human touch, will become ever more critical in a big data world. After all, it’s all about the customer experience!

What do you see emerging in 2017? Drop me a note at sithomso@avaya.com

Avaya’s 2017 Tech Trends to Watch: the Distinguished Dozen

With the Age of Intelligence fully underway, 2017 is destined be a landmark year for mobility, data and very cheap hardware. Here are Avaya’s 12 trends to watch in 2017 and the impacts they could have on life as we know it.

  1. Customers and business executives demand one-click collaboration on all devices.

    For decades, contact center agents have quietly dealt with cobbled together desktops that force them to click through as many as 18 different applications during one customer service call. The notion of one-and-done (one phone call, no transfers, problem solved) in the contact center isn’t always true from an agent experience perspective. Mobile employees, on the other hand, don’t have the same level of patience or tolerance, especially going into 2017.

  2. The rise of Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) in recent years is enabling businesses to utilize the cloud to embed foundational team engagement functions such as IM, presence, and click-to-call into cloud applications. With these functions just a click away, mobile employees can be more productive than ever. No more time spent searching for a meeting invite, opening the invite, clicking on a link, entering a passcode—all of which are doable on a mobile phone but create a cumbersome experience. The functions can be embedded into and then launched from within a cloud-based CRM application such as salesforce.com, making the experience from any device much more efficient and simply better.

    The CPaaS market in 2015 was valued at $400 million and is expected to reach $8.1 billion in 2019. The one-and-done, click-to-collaborate generation of mobile employees is here to stay.

  3. A CIO and a CMO walk into a bar….

    CIO vs. CMO is no longer a battle, it’s on its way to becoming the most strategic partnership in the c-suite. With the ease and free availability of cloud applications throughout the recession, CMOs and their scrappy marketing teams tasked with building sales funnels to drive business with little to no budget learned quickly the power of the cloud. Cloud-available marketing tools and applications that were free to download and trial for a limited time enabled the marketing department to easily bypass the CIO as they built out their cloud-based toolkit and efficient processes. When the time came to begin having budget discussions again, the CMO had results-driven use cases that provided a solid argument for the marketing department to be awarded a good chunk of the IT budget.

  4. That was 2010. This is 2017.

    Now, with customers and employees using a variety of mobile channels to communicate with enterprises and engage teams of people to get work done, the value of communications is more noticeable than ever, as is the CMO’s influence on IT purchases. But with the growing enterprise security concerns coupled with the need for real-time, pervasive analytics that are everywhere across the enterprise, it’s time for a truce.

    The CMO can no longer rebel alone but the CIO can also no longer be the sole purveyor of all things IT. By partnering and gaining a greater understanding and appreciation for each other’s roles and objectives, these two technology-driven leaders have the opportunity to redefine how business gets done when real time, contextual communications and quality of user experience are at the forefront of all IT purchase decisions.

  5. Internet of Everything causes segmentation to combat ransomware.

    Ransomware can prevent the user from using their computer and accessing data. The computer and its data are held “hostage,” under complete control of a hacker, until a ransom is paid to the hacker. What happens when the computer is a glucose monitor? Or wireless ultra sound monitor? Or a pacemaker? The Medical Internet of Things has become just another vast playground for hackers to manipulate with the intent to profit. Unlike a company’s enterprise infrastructure or a smart phone, when hackers break into medical devices, lives are literally at stake, which drives up the ransom that can range from hundreds of dollars to thousands to regain access to a computer, network and/or files.

  6. Any Internet of Things poses a huge security risk, more so than the average computer on a network. Most objects in the new connected world are developed with minimal security features making them very vulnerable endpoints. It’s incumbent upon the network to provide the utmost level of security needed for each object: Enter segmentation.

    Network segmentation separates the network into secure zones that allow IoT devices to be separated from standard IT devices and applications. If an IoT device is hacked, it’s only the devices in that zone that are threatened. The zone and its contained devices are easily identifiable for immediate reaction to the security breach.

  7. Financial industry to drive innovation as financial customer experience goes mobile.

    Mobile is not just a form factor, it is a different experience. Mobile financial services are becoming more context-aware and going beyond replacing the basics you can do on a web site. While the mobile, financial services customer experience has been cumbersome and time-consuming with passwords, codes and security questions, advances in context-aware computing will enable the mobile customer experience to be on par with other mobile experiences.

  8. Biometric technologies such as voice authentication, fingerprint and facial recognition are ready for prime time and banking institutions are ready. Barclays was one of the early adopters of voice authentication. Executives at Barclays report that customer satisfaction has improved significantly with the simple acknowledgement that many of their customers wanting mobile experiences and providing a secure option.

    With context-aware computing for banking, financial and insurance on target to grow from $3.25 billion in 2013 to $13.8 billion in 2018, 2017 is shaping up to be a very pivotal year for mobile customer experience in financial services.

  9. Blockchain goes mainstream.

    Blockchain is not just for cryptocurrency anymore. In fact, most of blockchain deployments will be in the security and fraud areas, and expect fintech to massively use it. It will also change how payments are made.

  10. Blockchain is the underpinning technology of digital currency bitcoin. Today, more than 40 top financial institutions and companies across a number of industries are testing this distributed ledger technology as a trusted way to track the ownership of assets without the need for a central authority. This could speed up transactions and cut costs while lowering the chance of fraud.

    Considering the rise in security hacks and fraud cases worldwide, this is an important step for fintech (A term that is applied to a segment of start-ups that is developing truly disruptive technology such as mobile payments, money transfers, loans, asset management). Typically any technology experimented with by fintech is destined to trigger a cultural shift, driving permanent change to our daily lives.

  11. The team collaboration battle heats up.

    Reaping the benefits of team engagement and collaboration has been a struggle with siloed applications for content creation and sharing, project management, document management, and real time interactions. But when the results of using these tools show an increase in productivity is up to almost 13% and 97% of businesses say they use these tools to better serve their customers more efficiently, the hope for collaboration nirvana is still very much alive.

  12. In 2017, we will see more opportunities for businesses to redefine their team engagement workflows and improve their productivity with a single platform containing a family of intelligently integrated collaboration applications. “Silos be gone” will be the battle cry of those seeking true team engagement and collaboration tools, and their cries will finally be answered.

  13. Big data analytics 3.0 creates demand for skilled work force, practical uses.

    Enterprise IT adoption of big data analytics grows and creates demand for services. While machine learning can yield enormous benefits, data scientists will still be needed to understand what to model and improve. Machines are good at manipulating huge data sets, which people handle with difficulty. People are good at understanding causality, which an area machines struggle with.

  14. Who are these masters of data? Harvard Business Review reported that data scientist is the sexiest job of the 21st That article appeared in 2012. Today, the need for data scientists is greater than ever because the amount of data being generated is greater than ever and growing. Add to that, the fact that machines are smarter but still need supervision and guidance, it’s clear that the demand for data scientists is not going away. Companies need these scientists who are not only curious about “what if,” but also have the skills and knowledge to analyze thousands of petabytes of data that reside in all forms of rows and numbers, and can mashup data to analyze it in a way never imagined.

    In 2017, with the tremendous increase in data needing analyzed, more companies will begin training data-focused employees to become the skilled data scientists that are greatly needed.

  15. ID please.

    Business and consumer demand for apps on devices continues to drive the need for security and strategies for managing information. Beyond securing big data is the additional need of securing identity data.

  16. Identity data is different than the data consumers are accessing when engaging with apps. With the number of apps growing faster than the number of people, securing identity data on each and every app is an added consideration for companies developing apps as well as companies selectively utilizing apps for customer engagement.

    As companies continue their efforts to digitally transform in 2017, this process will shine an even brighter spotlight on the need for modernizing security, in particular identity access management systems. Companies must abandon their legacy identity security tools and begin deploying new systems that are highly scalable and equipped with high-end encryption enable a high quality user experience as well as the best security.

  17. Customer service scores take on new importance.

    Poor quality costs businesses billions each year. IT managers must focus on culture, analytics, and best practices to reduce risk and losses. Peer reviews, social media posts will be analyzed integrated in real time in customer experience strategies, as opposed to being reviewed periodically. Like high frequency trading changed the brokerage industry, high frequency customer segmentation will create new revenue opportunities for the innovators.

  18. The ability to segment customers enables companies to identify specific areas of interest, likes, and dislikes—and plan communications strategies that are then customized, more personalized and therefore, more likely to be accepted, not rejected. The ongoing challenge is that consumer choice and always-on access to multiple choices has changed how consumers think and react to information and buying opportunities. Consumers, led by the millennial generation, are more open to trying new things, seeking alternative choices.

    Add to this, the growing need for speed and sense of urgency, and obtaining and then maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction no longer has little to nothing to do with brand loyalty. Rather, it has to do with how quickly a company can become aware of when a customer tries something new and different, and then segment that customer accordingly.

    In 2017, the opportunity for real-time predictive analytics in the main customer service touch point, the contact center, is now. As customer segmentation must be done faster and in real time, so must the analysis of all the real-time customer data. With digital transformation knocking down siloes across the enterprise, the contact center’s ability to gain access to real time customer data and gain predictive incite to create better, relevant customer experiences is more real than ever.

  19. Looking for a driverless ride?

    Future generations will not have to take driver’s education. With its low-latency, high performance, ultra-reliable capabilities of the 5G mobile network is the ability for telecommunications companies to power machine-type innovations. This is the network that has the greatest capacity for enabling self-driving cars and the Internet of Things. The 5G is expected to be widely available by 2020.

  20. More than two dozen corporations are already working on self-driving cars from Google, to Apple, to Bosch, to Mercedes, to Tesla. General Motors has made two significant acquisitions in this area—Sidecar’s assets and Cruise Automation—and invested $500M in Lyft. The American auto manufacturer plans to have self-driving taxis ready for testing with Lyft in 2017.

    With safety being the number one priority for the companies doing the research and development as well as the regulators, the current expectation is that autonomous cars will be generally available by 2025.

    It’s quite possible that kids born as recent as 2010 will not have to take driver’s education. No more Driving Miss Daisy, she’ll be able to have her own ride all to herself.

  21. Drone dreaming goes sky high.

    Drones are one of the most popular new forms of information gathering available. Surveillance, public safety, agriculture and inspection are the use cases transforming drones from a high-flying hobby to a strategic business improvement and communications application.

  22. Similar to autonomous cars, drone performance is expected to excel with wider availability of the fifth generation mobile network. Whether equipped with video cameras to transport real-time, live video and images from a disaster back to public safety officials, or a fleet of drones conducting a crop survey, or a building or oil rig inspection, drones provide the missing, middle-ground view between satellite imagery and ground-level.

    For enterprises, the opportunities to incorporate drone technology into business communications and re-imagine traditional industries is very real. Price Waterhouse Coopers reported that the commercialization of drones in vertical industries ranging from construction to insurance could lead to a $125B disruption. The expectation is that drones can improve business with new found operational efficiencies as well a capital expenditure improvements not previously ever envisioned, let alone realized.

  23. A robot and a human walk into a bar…?

    When the use of robots, also known as artificial intelligence, in the workplace to improve productivity and save companies money initially made headlines decades ago, primarily for assembly line work, redundant tasks. The reality was that the technology wasn’t mature enough to act without human intervention. The attitude of the average person was: Leave working with robots to the scientists and Hollywood, why would I ever interact with a robot?

  24. Enter the Age of Intelligence. Perhaps a more appropriate description here is the Age of Technological Maturity and Acceptance. Robots and average people have matured enough to co-exist. Technology has reached the point where it is proven that robots can be programmed to perform tasks with 100% or better accuracy. The simplicity of the user experience, whether programming or interacting with a robot, has made the use of robots something the average person can not only relate to, but in 2017, will find they can’t live without.

    In various industries such as health sciences, military and public safety, robotics and automation are improving human lives. In the most digitally advanced hospitals, robots are helping reduce the risks of infections of workers by disinfecting patient and operating rooms. They are programmed to work in labs to draw blood, dispense medications, deliver meals, all while moving among people using elevators and automatic doors.

    Looking at military and public safety, human first responders and human-operated responders are working together. Using a robot to enter a highly dangerous area such as a burning building to look for survivors, investigate a bomb threat, enter a hazardous waste spill or investigate a hostage situation are scenarios where more human lives are saved.

    Will a robot and a human ever walk into a bar in 2017? Princess Leia would certainly want us to believe it’s possible.

Looking Ahead

As the above trends come to fruition in 2017 in various ways, so will the need for IT teams to be ready for change.

Change is inevitable in every company in order to survive as evidenced by the number of digital transformation projects going on in companies of all sizes worldwide. Add to this the fact that traditional industries will continue to be disrupted, the need for change is greater than ever.

In 2017, IT organizations will be challenged more than ever to keep up with ongoing change while balancing the need for greater security with the ability to deliver secure change with a sense of urgency.

Review our eBook of Avaya’s 2017 Technology Trends anytime.