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Telecom Reseller features 46 Labs - The Technology that Keeps 911 Operators Operating

Emergencies can happen anywhere and when they do, the ability to connect quickly with first responders can literally be a matter of life and death. Trusted connectivity anytime, from anywhere, is critical.

National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, celebrated during the second week of April each year, recognizes the people and technology that make 911 the lifeline it has to be.

This includes 911 dispatch operators – arguably the true ‘first responders’ – and the telecommunication companies that provide the fast, reliable and secure connectivity that ultimately saves lives.

Currently, as of March 2022, 98.9% of the U.S. population has access to 911.

Brief History of 911

Before the first 911 call was made in Haleyville, Alabama in 1968, had to dial a seven-digit number to reach the emergency services they needed. Moreover, with separate numbers for police, fire and EMS, deciding who to call – and probably looking up their phone number in the ancient tome known as the phone book – burned much-needed seconds.

In 1967, the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice recommended a single number for emergencies nationwide. The American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) proposed ‘9-1-1,’ both for its simplicity to recall and because it wasn’t an existing office, service or area code.

Several years later, in March 1973, the White House recommended nationwide adoption of 911 and municipalities slowly adopted it; by 1987, half the U.S. population had access to 911. Currently, as of March 2022, 98.9% of the U.S. population has access to 911.

What is E911?

Enhanced 911 (E911) services display the telephone number and physical location of a wireless caller for the 911 dispatcher. There are a variety of situations when this time-saving feature comes into play:

  • When the caller is incapacitated or otherwise unable to communicate their physical location
  • When the caller is in a building with multiple rooms or offices, such as a hotel or office building
  • When the caller has disabled location tracking
  • When the 911 call is routed through an incorrect Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP)

How Can Businesses Ensure Compliance?

Two laws govern compliance with 911 and E911 for enterprises or other entities using multi-line telephone systems. Kari’s Law ensures 911 callers can reach emergency services directly, without having to dial another digit before or after entering ‘9-1-1.’ This applies to hotels, hospitals or other entities that require callers to dial ‘9’ to reach an outside line.

The Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services, or RAY BAUM’s law, ensures all “dispatchable location” information – including street address as well as the building floor and room number, when relevant – is conveyed to the operator, regardless of the technology used to make the call.

This applies to technologies like interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) and mobile text service.

To ensure compliance, businesses can adopt technology that registers the user’s physical location, automatically transmits a callback number and location when someone dials 911 from their system and is easy to update. It’s important to check for compliance with existing technology and any time technology is replaced.

These laws extend to remote workers when routing calls through company technology. For example, remote employees should be able to dial 911 without going through additional obstacles like security authentications. The physical address attached to the system they are using should be their home address and not the address of the company headquarters.

The technology that speeds 911 communications plays a critical role in this life-saving service that receives an estimated 240 million calls every year – or an average of 600,000 calls each day.

What’s Next for E911?

As technology continues to advance, E911 services will follow with enhancements to further assist first responders and shorten the time it takes them to reach a victim or location. These include the ability to transmit photos, videos and text messages with first responders. Known as Next Generation 911 (NG911), this service is already available in several states.

The technology that speeds 911 communications plays a critical role in this life-saving service that receives an estimated 240 million calls every year – or an average of 600,000 calls each day. No less important are the people on the other end of that technology that keep people calm in emergencies, dispatch help quickly and provide needed instructions to keep victims safe until assistance arrives.

Trevor Francis
CEO, 46 Labs
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