November 27, 2017
Most IP telephony software vendors offer basic 911-management capabilities, including the ability to track phone locations and make that information available to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) that answer 911 calls. But location management alone may not be enough to meet your needs. Here are several common reasons why we see enterprises adopting third-party 911 solutions:
- 911 call routing: It’s not just enough to know the location of an individual calling 911. You must also route that call to the correct PSAP; an increasingly difficult challenge as employees work from home, or other remote locations. Third-party 911 management solutions not only enable real-time location tracking of all endpoints, but also use that information to route a 911 call to the proper PSAP.
- Internal call routing and notifications: Organizations, especially larger ones, may require routing of 911 calls to security desks or to internal first responders (e.g. in a large campus environment). For example, a university may want to route calls to their campus police operator rather than the local 911 PSAP. Or, they may wish to send notifications via text or email to security personnel in the event of a 911 call.
- Multi-vendor environments: E911 capabilities provided by IP telephony vendors may be sufficient for managing their own endpoints, but many midsize and larger organizations operate heterogeneous telephony environments that include multiple telephony providers. A third-party E911 vendor can provide a single means to manage location information across all endpoints, regardless of underlying telephony platform.
- Misdial protection: With many companies still requiring dialing of “9” to get an outside line, and then a “1” to place a long-distance call, it’s relatively easy for a worker to add a second “1” and inadvertently dial 911. Misdial protection capabilities offered by third-party E911 management vendors can prevent misdial by intercepting the call and playing a recorded message asking the caller to confirm that they truly meant to dial 911.
- Call recording and analysis: Third-party 911 solutions may support recording of 911 calls for later analysis to determine the nature of the call, how it was handled, and how the organization could improve handling of the emergency in the future.
- Cost reduction: Some IP telephony vendor native 911 solutions require manual establishment of phone location databases. Third-party 911 solutions can automate not only initial setup, but also maintenance by regularly polling the network for phone changes, reducing staff time required to manage 911 databases. In addition, third-party 911 solutions may support centralized call routing to the proper local PSAP, enabling enterprises to eliminate local PSTN connections at remote offices, reducing operating and hardware costs at those sites.
- Enhanced softphone support: Most IPT vendors’ softphones support recognizing when a user has changed location and can require the user to validate his or her current address from a list of known addresses. Third-party 911 solutions add additional capabilities such as the ability to enable a user to enter a custom address, and then validate that the user-provided address actually exists. This capability prevents misrouting of 911 calls and providing PSAPs with incorrect location information for those using their softphones when away from the office.
- Enhanced location sharing: IP telephony systems and SIP trunking service providers may only be able to transmit street-address information to a PSAP. Third- party solutions offering their own 911 call routing capabilities can provide additional information such as floor or wing, enabling first responders to be on the scene more quickly, and accurately, to a person in need of assistance.
Each of the aforementioned capabilities, or all of them, may lead you toward evaluating 911 capabilities from third-party providers who deliver feature sets that go beyond what’s natively available from your current telephony platform provider (or providers). Evaluate third-party 911 offerings to determine if they align with your business need.