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Are You Ready for the New 911 Regulations?


Even in the absence of mandatory federal regulations, companies may be at risk for litigation and negative media attention if end users are not able to connect to 911 quickly and accurately during an emergency.

Understanding 911 Regulations

Just last August, the FCC adopted two new rulings applicable to 911 calls originating from multi-line telephone systems (MLTS). These new rules are Kari’s Law and Section 506 of RAY BAUM’s Act.

Kari’s Law requires direct dialing to 911. In other words, it eliminates a prefix such as an “8” or “9” required to get a trunk access line. Kari’s Law also requires notification of designated personnel when a 911 call has been made. This may include a security team or front desk attendant. These notifications allow someone within the enterprise to potentially guide first responders as they arrive on-scene, help them navigate the entrances and building and may even be able to provide initial medical support such as CPR to callers. Kari’s Law goes into effect on February 16, 2020. 

Section 506 of RAY BAUM’S Act requires that a “dispatchable location” be provided to public safety. A dispatchable location is more precise than just the street address of the organization; it may include such additional information as building name or number, floor, suite and/or room number, if applicable. First responders value this location information above all other data points because it represents the door that they need to find to assist 911 callers.

Even in the absence of mandatory federal regulations, companies may be at risk for litigation and negative media attention if end users are not able to connect to 911 quickly and accurately during an emergency. Employees may have an expectation that any phone in their organization has 911 calling enabled. Instructing employees to “only call 911 from your mobile device” may not, in all cases, be the most practical or natural response when a panicked employee is involved in a serious incident or emergency. Furthermore, wireless 911 calling carries its own set of location determination challenges, particularly in complex urban environments, which may further impact how easily first responders can reach callers.

Final Thoughts on 911

In the case of enterprise-based 911 calling, it is important that CIOs or CTOs fully understand how changes within the network environment can affect the efficacy of their 911 support. The conversation regarding upgrades to communications services and systems is usually initiated by the IT or technology teams but must also include guidance from legal counsel to ensure that the organization creates processes that adhere to the new federal mandates. In addition, HR representatives and facilities teams can help establish a safety-centric policy as part of a larger emergency preparedness plan.

911 calling is a uniquely important service that demands solutions that align with and even somewhat anticipate regulatory changes. It must also be cost-effective and easy to manage. For the safety of employees, it must perform instantly with the highest reliability and accuracy that an enterprise can provide. Then, once implemented and fully tested, the best-case scenario is that it will never have to be used.



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