Enterprise E911 FAQs
Organizations like corporations, hotels, hospitals or educational institutions operate a PBX (private branch exchange) that allows network users to efficiently share external phone lines. The best enterprise 911 solutions ensure that, when someone within that network dials 911, the local PSAP is provided with not only the caller’s physical address but, ideally, a precise location, such as building name, floor number or wing.
In the past, organizations had one phone system per building, but VoIP technology has introduced additional complexities. The top challenge for public safety now is that there is likely to be a single PBX, with end users dispersed across different buildings, regional locations or home offices.
Unfortunately, when an enterprise user calls 911, the address often received by the PSAP is the location of the data center where the PBX is housed and not the caller’s physical location. Obviously, from a public-safety perspective, this is not an ideal solution.
In addition, the tools and technologies available to users are evolving. Today, 911 callers may be trying to connect using a variety of devices—cell phones, home-office phones, laptops, or tablets.
Finally, regulatory compliance is complex and varies by geography—so much so that 911 Enable [part of Intrado’s operations] posts resources on our website to help our customers decipher the various requirements.
The future of enterprise 911 will continue to improve and enhance situational awareness at critical times. I think the real innovations will come from merging disparate technologies and evolving data sources to provide dispatchers, emergency responders, security personnel and others with the information they need to collaborate and coordinate the appropriate response. Each of these entities brings specific expertise, and the systems and processes have to be developed to share this knowledge.
Consider a hypothetical toxic chemical spill at a manufacturing plant. In this example, the sharing of real-time information between police, medical, environmental agencies, government officials and appropriate on-site personnel is key. Where exactly is the spill located so it can be contained? What chemicals are involved? Are there any environmental conditions that will help emergency responders decide which areas to evacuate first? How will this information be communicated to the different teams?
Sure, but IoT by itself is just the enabling technology. The ability to collect information, put it in context, and provide it to first responders in a meaningful way will be the key. I think the future is really going to be about people and improving how they collaborate in order to protect human lives.
Good GIS data is integral to the core function of NG911. Where today GIS data is primarily used for visual map display in PSAPs/ECCs, in an NG911 environment it takes on a much bigger role—namely validating location information and accurately routing 911 calls. Once you’re in a fully functional NG911 environment, the location validation process will no longer rely on the MSAG to determine where to route a 911 call; instead, that function will be supported by your GIS data.
Like most aspects of NG911, the switch from tabular (MSAG, ALI) data to GIS data won’t happen all at once for most organizations. You’ll likely find that your transition will take place in steps as you gain confidence in the accuracy and completeness of your GIS database and your partners/vendors are ready to support geospatial call-routing.
You’ll first submit data through a spatial interface (at Intrado, this is the Spatial Engine) to validate the required data layers for MSAG/ALI to GIS, or you’ll do your own DIY comparison. Next, you’ll look into any discrepancies found during the comparison process and make corrections to the appropriate database. Finally, you’ll replace the tabular MSAG with a GIS-based MSAG; this allows future MSAG changes to be driven by GIS data submitted through the spatial interface, improving accuracy of the MSAG, which will still be used for emergency call routing until the geospatial call-routing system is in place.
There are three key functions for GIS in a NG911 system: location validation, emergency call-routing and map display. The NENA model is a blueprint to make geospatial call-routing possible no matter where a jurisdiction is. The standard also enables every jurisdiction to adapt according to its own changing needs and capabilities while still adhering to a minimum standard used at every NG911-compliant PSAP/ECC.
This is a critically important part of the transition to NG911. As you prepare your local GIS data, you will need to assess your boundary layers for gaps and overlaps, report back any discrepancies you find and work to reconcile these with neighboring jurisdictions. Once these gaps and overlaps are resolved, they can be updated in the master database.