Hotel Murder Linked to E911 Programming

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It was just a matter of time before the inevitable happened.

177-Blur.jpgOn December 1st, in Marshall Texas, the estranged husband of Kari Rene Hunt murdered her in her hotel room. If that wasn’t gut wrenching enough, one of Kari’s children knew enough to call 911, but was unable to because the telephone system required a 9 for an outside line.

Oddly enough, I just highlighted this very point in my Avaya CONNECTED Blog just two weeks ago.

This raises a huge concern, that has been largely ignored, by several states, as well as the Federal Communications Commission. Several initiatives over the years have had some impact, however it remains that only 18 states have Multi Line Telephone System (MLTS/PBX) legislation, and even many of those are cryptic or ineffective.

FCC_Logo_100.pngThe Federal Communications Commission initiated a notice of inquiry asking the industry to comment on the problem, as well as the technological and financial impact of correcting it. It is safe to say that the industry as a whole responded stating that the technical challenges that may have existed in days past no longer exist, quite often basic functionality to enable an effective solution exists within most telephone systems sold today, and very affordable adjunct functionality is available at a fraction of the cost of what was available a decade ago.

Defining the problem:
Large PBX systems allow station to station dialing using abbreviated three or four digit extension numbers. Dialing 9, is a way of telling the telephone system that you wish to make an outside call, instead of an internal call. The telephone system “absorbs” the 9, as it is not needed by the telephone company, and only the digits after the 9 are actually sent out the telephone trunk. Dialing 9-1-1, if not addressed specifically, will simply send 1-1 to the telephone company, which means nothing to the North American dialing plan.

Fixing the problem:
The fix for the problem is actually a simple one. Most systems today will distinguish, if programmed correctly, 9-1-1, 9-1-Area Code and Number, or many other dialing patterns. While many think that changing the access code to another digit solves problem, it is actually the enablement of just the digits 9-1-1 being recognized as an emergency call. This simple task was highlighted in the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) model legislation.

Trey Forgety, who is the Director of Government Affairs for NENA said, “Historically, owners and operators of [an] existing PBX/MLTS have resisted any mandate that might require expensive reprogramming or replacement of legacy systems.” With the advent of new technology, and practices from several Avaya DevConnect partners, costly adjuncts that were required in the past, are no longer the case.

As I travel weekly, I stay in many hotels throughout the year, and I always take note of the dialing instructions on the phone. I see many different ways the problem has been dealt with, including instructions to dial the operator or some “special number” like 5555.

Fletch’s 2014 Top 15 list for “Really? You’re going with that for 9-1-1?”
Actual signage from phones and hotel rooms.

It is been my firm belief for many years that this problem will not go away without federal legislation. The NENA motto is clear:

One Number, Any Time, Any device.

We have taught our children well, however, while we as adults may understand the concept behind “dialing 9 for an outside line”, clearly a child does not, and in this case a tragedy occurred.

I call upon all of my fellow telecommunications manufacturers, and the Honorable Commissioners and Chairman at the FCC, to take action and establish basic requirements for this seemingly simple task.

It is not an issue of technology.
It is not an issue of cost.
It is a lack of public education.
It is a lack of non-compliance ‘incentives’.
It is a lack of legislative direction.

This story took nearly 2 weeks to surface, and then nearly another week to be digested and reported on properly. How many other tragedies have we overlooked?

To the family of Kari Hunt, you have my deepest condolences on the loss of your loved one. There is nothing that I can do or say, that will take away your pain and suffering. What I can do, is encourage others to show support for Kari’s Law, in memory of your tragic loss.

Want more Technology, News and Information from Avaya? Be sure to check out the Avaya Podcast Network landing page at . 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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