Why E911 Compliance Matters: Understanding the Impact on Your Business
In today’s world, where employee safety is paramount, understanding and complying with “Enhanced 911” or E911 regulations is crucial. Negligence to comply not only puts your employees, customers, and guests at risk but also exposes your business to legal and financial consequences. Conventional 911 services were based on a phone number associated with a fixed location. In addition to businesses continuing to move their communications to the cloud, today’s workforce is becoming more mobile and can work from anywhere. This is creating a level of complexity in providing accurate 911 call routing and dispatchable location management. This advancement in technology along with devices being able to move outside their predefined locations has created this need for a new solution to ensure a person can be located accordingly if they dialed 911 from an enterprise device no matter where that device may have traveled.
In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of why E911 compliance matters, the federal laws that require it, the challenges businesses face, and how to navigate the complexities of implementing an effective E911 strategy.
Understanding E911 Laws
First, it’s important to understand the two Federal Laws, Kari’s Law (signed into law on February 16, 2018, and went into effect in February 2020), and RAY BAUM’s Act (FCC adopted rules under section 506 of RAY BAUM’s act in August 2019). The key requirements of these laws are:
- Kari’s Law:
- Direct access to 9-1-1: All new or upgraded telephony systems must allow the user to dial 911 directly without any prefixes or access codes. This also included all softphones.
- Routing to the 9-1-1 PSAP (public service answering points): Emergency calls should be directly routed to the PSAP without any interception.
- Onsite notification: A designated person within the organization must be notified immediately when a 911 call is made.
- Call back number: A valid call back number must be provided so that in case of a disconnection, the 911 dispatcher can reconnect with the caller.
- RAY BAUM’s Act, Section 506:
- Dispatchable location: Fixed and non-fixed MLTS (multi-line telephone system) must supply accurate location information including not only the building’s street address, but also adequate information for emergency responders to successfully locate the caller (room number, floor number, conference room, or other applicable information). For example, if someone dials 9-1-1 from a donut shop, the correct location may simply be 1340 Farmington Avenue. However, if a 9-1-1 call is made from a 15-floor office building, the “dispatchable location” becomes: 159 North Main Street, floor 12, Suite 105, The Winston conference room.
Kari’s law and RAY BAUM’s act are now part of the amended Communications ACT, and as a result, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has the authority to enforce these regulations, assign judgments, and collect penalties. The consequences therefore of non-compliance can have severe implications for your business. Apart from potentially devastating liabilities, non-compliant organizations risk fines and added penalties.
Why E911 Compliance Is Challenging
Businesses often struggle with becoming E911 compliant due to several factors, especially when it comes to accommodating the distributed workforce. Here are the seven key challenges they face and what they need to consider and address:
- Technological Complexity: Implementing E911 solutions that accurately track and report the location of employees across various devices and communication platforms can be technically complex. Businesses need to ensure that their existing infrastructure supports E911 compliance and that the necessary software and systems are in place.
- Softphones and Cloud-based Communication: With the rise of remote work and cloud-based communication tools, businesses often rely on softphones and UCaaS platforms for voice communication. Ensuring accurate location data and seamless integration with E911 systems becomes challenging in such scenarios. Businesses should collaborate with experts and service providers who specialize in E911 solutions for cloud-based communication to address this issue.
- Mobile Workforce: Many businesses have employees who work remotely or travel often. Ensuring E911 compliance for these mobile workers requires solutions that can track their location accurately and deliver dispatchable location data to emergency services. Implementing mobile E911 applications or integrating with location-tracking tools can help address this challenge.
- Education and Training: Businesses need to educate their employees about the importance of E911 compliance and provide clear guidelines on how to access emergency services from various devices and locations. Regular training and awareness programs help ensure that employees understand the procedures and are prepared to manage emergencies appropriately.
- Monitoring and Testing: Once an E911 solution is implemented, businesses should regularly monitor and test its functionality to ensure that emergency calls are routed correctly, notifications are received, and accurate location data is provided. This includes testing for remote workers and verifying the effectiveness of the E911 strategy in different scenarios.
- Policy and Documentation: Businesses should have clear policies and documentation outlining the E911 compliance requirements and procedures. This includes guidelines for remote workers, instructions for reporting changes in employee locations, and steps to follow during emergencies. Regularly reviewing and updating these policies is essential to maintain compliance.
- Collaboration with Service Providers: Partnering with knowledgeable service providers who specialize in E911 compliance can greatly assist businesses in navigating the complexities of distributed workforces. These providers can offer expertise, support, and customized solutions tailored to the specific needs of the organization.
Importance of E911 Compliance
Now that we understand the challenges, let’s explore why E911 compliance matters for your business:
- Duty of care to employees: Compliance with E911 regulations is crucial for upholding your responsibility to ensure the safety of your employees, whether they are on-site, remote, or at satellite locations.
- Effective emergency response: Time is precious and during an emergency, E911 compliance enables swift and accurate communication with security teams and emergency responders. Supplying immediate and precise information to emergency responders significantly reduces response times as they can locate and help individuals in distress quickly.
- Operational continuity and risk management: E911 compliance is an integral part of your business’s risk management strategy. By addressing potential emergencies and ensuring effective emergency response protocols, you minimize operational disruptions, mitigate potential legal risks, and protect your business from reputational damage.
In summary, understanding the importance of E911 compliance, identifying, and addressing the challenges associated with a distributed workforce, and implementing effective solutions is essential. By doing so, you uphold your duty of care to your employees, ensure swift emergency response, avoid regulatory penalties, and safeguard your business’s reputation and standing. Prioritizing E911 compliance is not only a legal requirement, but it is also a vital step toward creating a secure and resilient environment for your organization. At Universal Connectivity, we are dedicated to helping you and your employees stay as safe as possible by providing you with E911 solutions to give you peace of mind in protecting your most important assets.
Choosing a Business Phone Provider
How do you choose the right business communication partner to help your business thrive? Grab our free, one page checklist. Compiled based on years of experience, this download can help you jump start your search and selection process and: