If You Dial 911, You Should Be Able to REACH SOMEONE


“The greatest weapon on our arsenal is awareness. Once people learn of this problem, they want to help. So when you go back to your communities, please take up the baton. Ask those who manage your local hotels, office buildings, and schools whether their phone systems allow a caller to reach help by dialing 9-1-1 without an access code. If they don’t know the answer to this question, help them find out. And if the answer is no, ask them to fix their systems and offer to help them figure out how to do so. Working together, we can ensure that anyone who dials 9-1-1 can reach someone who can help – no matter where they’re calling from.”

These words, spoken by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, were part of the keynote address delivered to several hundred attendees of the 911 Goes to Washington conference, held this past March.

After the conference, this is exactly what the Texas Commission on State Emergency Communications did.

Their next scheduled monthly commission meeting is slated for Wednesday, May 14 at 10 AM in Austin, and on page 57 of their proposed agenda is a report by Executive Director Kelli Merriweather detailing emergency dialing test results made by the 23 Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs) from businesses, hospitals, hotels and schools.

Related article: My Top 5 Takeaways from IAUG Converge 2014

In total, 232 test calls were placed that resulted in 73% of those calls reaching a 911 PSAP. While these numbers initially seemed positive, digging in further to the details highlight areas requiring significant improvement.

For this particular test event, the pass/fail criteria was that the call reached a PSAP, IT DID NOT take into consideration, however, the accuracy of the Automatic Location Information (ALI) that was delivered with the call.

The test also did not differentiate between calls using an outbound digit, i.e. 9-9-1-1, or dialing 9-1-1 directly.

The report did acknowledge that out of the call failures, which equated to 63 or 27% of the total test calls, more test calls (58%) were successful by using an outbound digit, as opposed to calls where 9-1-1 was dialed directly.

As previously stated, the goal of this test was to determine the ability for a user to reach a 911 center dialing 9-9-1-1 and 9-1-1 directly.

While location is important and critical, that was not the focus of this particular test.

The results were tabulated, however, and 94% of the test calls (160 out of the 170 successful test calls) did deliver ALI data; but the report goes on to acknowledge that correct data was not displayed in all cases.

The commission staff also surveyed members of the National Association of 911 Administrators (NASNA), and were able to solicit responses from nearly half of the organization.

Of those responding, eight reported that there are some type of penalty is legislation in place in their state.

Within the industry, it’s generally agreed that while a total of 22 states have legislation or active legislation pending, the actual number of states with legislation current on the books is 18.

While no immediate recommendation or action is cited in this particular report, the CSEC plans to host a workshop this summer that will facilitate dialogue and develop a working relationship with the industry that includes the business and hospitality community as well as hospitals and school districts.

This is yet another data point that supports the notion that 911 is in fact a problem across multiple industries utilizing telephones serviced by an MLTS or PBX, and it is a stark reminder that while NENA promotes 9-1-1 on “Any Device, Any Where, Any Time,” this clearly is not the case from business telephone solutions that are deployed today.

It is also a relevant indicator that the functionality of direct access to 9-1-1 is one that’s a matter of choice in provisioning, and not a technological blockade, highlighting the three simplistic requirements behind Kari’s Law.

9-1-1 dialing with and without a trunk access code.
On-site notification that alerts local personnel when a 9-1-1 call was placed
Direct routing to a 9-1-1 center, without local interception by untrained staff

Remember, you can make your voice heard, and join 450,000 like-minded individuals by signing the petition to allow these basic, and often free, life safety features available to every telephone regardless if it’s attached to a PBX or not, by signing the petition at http://Change.Org/KarisLaw.

It costs you nothing more than a few moments of your time, but it may save someone from costing them their life.

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 E911. 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 at @Fletch911

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