A BLOG by Fletch


In technology, seemingly simple questions can often be the most difficult to answer. If you were to ask most people on the street, “911” would likely answer both of these questions. HOWEVER, the answer may be different to an enterprise IT Manager deploying an MLTS 911 solution.

Before Kari’s Law and the RAY BAUM’S Act, 911 was defined as the public switched telephone network providing service to your home. On February 16, 1968, in the sleepy northern Alabama town of Haleyville, 911 was in service and became the official number for emergency calls. As the network grew 55 years later, the number is now ubiquitous across North America and available nearly everywhere.


In 2013, Kari Hunt lost her life in a hotel in Marshall, Texas. Her 9-year-old daughter could not call 911 because she didn’t know to dial 9 for an outside line first. From that tragedy, Kari’s Law evolved, followed by the RAY BAUM’S Act, improving access to multiline telephone systems (MLTS).

As systems are upgraded and remediated, the questions I get the most now are “Where to send 911 calls?” and “Whom should I notify?”


An initial misassumption that’s often made is the 911 project given to the IT department to implement. This results in a technology-focused fix that may have nothing to do with the problem. For example, you’re in charge of a large higher education campus deployment of 911. The university has its own security or Police Department, so you may be tempted to send your 911 calls directly there. Despite that agency being a certified, state-approved law enforcement agency, it may not be the primary Emergency Communications Center (ECC) as designated by the state 911 authority. They may need more equipment, additional connection diversity, or even CJIS and other security certifications that are just a tiny sampling of the requirements to be an official designated primary ECC.

However, completely bypassing local resources is also an issue. Valuable resources nearby from a personnel perspective or resources like AEDs, Oxygen, First Aid kits, and the new Stop the Bleed kits are becoming popular with the recent increase in active shooter incidents. This is precisely why current and real-time situational awareness is crucial. IoT information, network forensics assisting in location discovery of the device, and multimodal / multimedia content that provides detailed incident-specific data.

The same applies to a large Enterprise with a security team on staff. Even though they can respond to the incident faster, keep in mind that every minute you delay emergency 1st responders, you are delaying transport to the hospital. You are delaying paramedics with life-saving drugs and equipment. You are also delaying trained firefighters with the proper gear and training to deal with and contain a fire to minimize damage and injuries.

YES – YOU ALSO SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE INCIDENT. This is precisely why local On-Site Notification was a part of Kari’s Law and was strengthened in the RAY BAUM’S Act. On-site personnel are made aware of incidents as soon as they occur and can start remediation or rescue plans as needed to become effective. REMEMBER KARI LIVED FOR 20 TO 30 MINUTES ACCORDING TO THE CORONER REPORT. However, 911 wasn’t successfuly called for nearly 25 minutes, and had only a 6-minute response to the hotel. Kari would have absolutely lived, in my opinion, and I am sure this played heavily on the hearts of the jury when awarding the case in court.


Yet another frequently arising issue is the ‘SELF DISPATCH.’ Applications are distributed to teachers in a school and local law enforcement individuals. Every officer nearby is notified and responds to the scene if there is an active shooter. While the intention is good, what about the operational confusion that may cause?

Do you want a plain clothes person with a weapon charging into the middle of a scene, who may or may not be recognizable or known to the o duty law enforcement officers? Likely not. Additionally, the situational awareness that would be provided may be myopic and not give an accurate picture.


Uh oh . . .  More acronyms must be new technology coming. Indeed, these are the new ‘cool super tech’ now widely available and increasingly affordable. Everything today must have AI in it today, but the other technology has been around for a while and has already been put through its paces. License Plate Reader is very effective in a parking lot gate control environment, Facial Recognition still may provide false hits, but the onus is on the source database. Weapons Detection by video needs human verification, or we are going to plunge the public into a panic. So many people become desensitized to false alarms that they won’t be met with the urgency required when it is a real alert.

Finally, remember that public safety remediation is often an artform, and requires many different skill sets. Familiarize yourself with the http://nena.org i3 Functional Specifications and remember to involve input from every facet of the industry you will touch.

Take care and stay safe!

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