911, like any technology, has continuously evolved to adapt to new technology requirements and constantly changing regulations. It’s no secret platforms and apps are more sophisticated than ever before.
While there are countless ways to route 911 calls, the emphasis is now on the ability to precisely identify a location during emergencies where every second counts. And because of this, Enhanced 911 (E911) has quickly become the standard for enabling the 911 process.
E911 is the system enabling calls to be selectively routed to the appropriate Public Service Answering Point (PSAP), including the caller’s location and phone number displayed for the call dispatcher. In comparison, basic 911 has no routing determinations and location data automatically transmitted but instead is communicated by voice (or TTY) between the caller and dispatcher.
Why should you care about Enhanced 911?
The development of E911 was driven by the need to quickly and accurately identify the location of a caller — something that is now mandatory thanks to regulations like the Ray Baum’s Act and Kari’s Law and the shift from static to nomadic calling.
What did these two important pieces of legislation change?
Kari’s Law: A requirement for direct dialing and notification for multi-line telephone systems (MLTS). This legislation was the direct response to a fatal story where an individual was unable to reach 911 during an emergency due to a prefix/access code.
Ray Baum’s Act: A requirement for dispatchable location information for MLTS to be shared with dispatch centers regardless of what platform the call is coming from.
Together, they impose stricter access and dispatchable location requirements regardless of the 911 use case. Dispatchable data should include the address as well as any other identifiers like apartment, building, or suite number.
Whether you use a hosted PBX solution, a SIP line, or another nomadic form of communication, it’s important you can send accurate dispatchable location information when an emergency occurs.
As the communication landscape changed, so have the needs of 911 calling. We can track the timeline of E911 through the major developments in public communication.
Starting with landlines
Many decades before, local carriers only had to keep a database of phone numbers and physical addresses. Landlines did not change location, so this system was sufficient for the time.
Adding in cell phones
The advent of mobile telephones posed a problem to 911 services, which had to catch up with evolving technologies. How can these devices automatically provide their locations for emergency calls?
GPS receivers built into modern cell phones are becoming more accurate every day, and cellular networks can now extrapolate an originating call’s location through its distance to surrounding cell towers. Today’s wireless networks can send this data to 911 when necessary.
Transitioning to nomadic technologies
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has quickly become the most popular form of nomadic telephony today. Regardless, VoIP clients and other nomadic forms of telephony accessed through soft clients must be both accessible and able to dispatch accurate location data to remain compliant with Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act.
How does Sinch work with Enhanced 911?
Enhanced 911 isn’t optional today. The fine for non-compliance is severe, surpassing $1 million in many cases. And the regulations are especially important in larger buildings like hotels and multi-story offices. Knowing exactly where a call is made from is paramount in these cases.
Sinch provides companies with a variety of voice and PSTN-connected solutions which are fully integrated with E911 capabilities. Whether you’re looking to maintain compliance or to improve overall safety — our E911 and next generation 911 solutions are here to help.