FCC Fines – What’s considered an outage, and where the money goes

FCC Fines - What's considered an outage, and where the money goes
 
This past week T-Mobile was slammed with a record $17.5 million fine by the Federal Communications Commission. The fine was related to 2 specific 911 outages, occurring last summer, affecting customers for at least three hours.[http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2015/db0717/DOC-334433A1.pdf]

This past year the FCC has flexed its enforcement muscle with carriers pertaining to 911 service outages, including a previous record fine of $16 million to CenturyLink, $1.4 Million to Intrado, and $3.4 Million to Verizon in connection with a multi-state outage in April 2014 where a database error in a Colorado datacenter hosted by Intrado prevented calls from properly routing to 911 centers.

With nearly $40 million being collected,the common question being asked by many is, “What actually defines an outage, and exactly where does all of this money go after it’s been collected?”

Follow the Money

Where the money goes, is easily answered, as Title 47 CFR specifically addresses the issue. The Code of Federal Regulations (Title 47 §32.7300)[https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/47/32.7300] mandates that all collected penalties and fines paid on account for FCC violations of statutes will be deposited in an Other Income and Expense account. This is the same account that money from the sale of land or a building would go, and is part of the general operating income and expense of the FCC.

So while there would be a financial impact on the overall profit and loss statement, monies collected for a specific violation are not applied to specific remediation activities for any particular violation, at least not directly. Those would all be budget line items previously decided and allocated.

What’s considered an outage?

Title 47 also defines what constitutes an outage under §4.5.[https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/47/4.5]Specifically, for 911 facilities, an outage is considered to exist whenever one of the following conditions exists:

  1. There is a loss of communications to PSAP(s) potentially affecting at least 900,000 user-minutes and: The failure is neither at the PSAP(s) nor on the premises of the PSAP(s); no reroute for all end users was available; and the outage lasts 30 minutes or more; OR
  2. There is a loss of 911 call processing capabilities in one or more E-911 tandems/selective routers for at least 30 minutes duration; OR
  3. One or more [landline] end-office or [cellular] Mobile Switching Center (MSC) switches or host/remote clusters is isolated from 911 service for at least 30 minutes and potentially affects at least 900,000 user-minutes; OR
  4. There is a loss of ANI/ALI (associated name and location information) and/or a failure of location determination equipment, including Phase II equipment, for at least 30 minutes and potentially affecting at least 900,000 user-minutes (provided that the ANI/ALI or location determination equipment was then currently deployed and in use, and the failure is neither at the PSAP(s) or on the premises of the PSAP(s)).

It Depends . . .  – Martha Buyer, Atty.

What I have come to learn over the past several years, is to pay attention to not only the legislative text of a regulation or law, but more importantly, the definitions and assumptions that the law makes. These areas are where the real ingredients to the recipe lie, and where legal consultation can be invaluable.

Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

Read my other AVAYA CONNECTED Blogs

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he provides the strategic roadmap and direction of Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, and co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the EU, where he provides insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

Back to Basics Series – NG911

Back to Basics Series - NG911
CLICK HERE For the PODCAST VERION

While many of the blogs and articles that I write are intended for the technical IT administrator, or public safety first responders and dispatchers, I’ve decided to break that pattern in an attempt to provide some grounding around an important topic that will affect the lives of nearly 300,000,000 people each and every year. I am talking about what is commonly known as public safety emergency services, and the E911 emergency network that exists in the US.

There is been quite a bit of hype recently formulated around what is been called Next Generation 911 networks or NG 911. But what exactly are these new entities? How do they actually help over what we have today? And most importantly, how they affect the the general citizen?

These are all great questions to ask, and while many in the public safety business may have relevant answers for each of those questions, in most cases the general public doesn’t have access to these experts to make an inquiry. Without validation of the basic facts, our imagination is left to run wild, myths and opinions, and all the cool stuff we see on TV, ends up being transformed into factoids that get quoted over and over, until they actually carry a level of credibility.

 What exactly is NG911?

In a nutshell, NG 911 is an evolution of the current emergency services network from its existing analog-based, 1970s era technology, to one that uses modern IP networking to convey information about location and a particular incident between the emergency call originator, and the 911 call taker or public safety answering point (PSAP).

Think of it this way, 15 to 20 years ago we relied heavily on the US mail. The speed of business was radically changing, and specialized service companies such as UPS and FedEx evolved with overnight package and letter delivery.

In the last decade, we have increased our communications urgency, and provided email as a near real time solution. But today, even that is being challenged as instant communications have taken precedence in the form of peer to peer messaging and communications forms such as Facebook and Twitter, to mention just a few.

How does NG911 improve 

 

what we have today?

In the late 60s, and early 70s, the rotary dial telephone was still common in homes and businesses. And while that technology will still work today on most networks, you would be hard-pressed to actually find a device for sale. Communications channels that are commonly used today simply will not work over the legacy 911 environment. As a primary example, text to 911 has taken more than a decade to roll out in the US, and even now is only available in about 5% of the 6800 PSAP’s in the US, according to the Federal Communications Commission. even with those PSAPs that will accept text messaging to 911, do so through a technology kludge on the backend that is challenged with the ability to deliver location with the text message. Now to be clear, we’re not talking about the accuracy of that location, it is a little known fact that NO LOCATION information is delivered to the 911 center with a text message today.

In addition to providing an intelligent link between the call originator, and the 911 call taker, NG 911 will provide the ability to send multimedia between the two endpoints in the form of pictures, video, or any other “additional data” that may be available on the device requesting assistance, or ultimately any associated sensor such as a blood pressure monitor or sugar monitoring mechanism for diabetics. This of course, brings me directly to my last point:

 How does NG911 affect me?

This is in fact the most easiest question of all, and one that is limited only by one’s imagination.

In addition to environmental sensor information, basic health information can be provided to emergency responders, and even conferenced with healthcare providers that can review the information while in route. Low blood sugar levels can alert healthcare providers of a pending situation that can proactively reach out to a patient under managed care and possibly remind them to take their medication if they forgotten. Once contact is made, and the dire situation is discovered, emergency services can be brought into a conference call establishing a response if needed.

A spouse with dementia may wander outside of a specific geo-fenced area, and their wearable device generates a notification to their spouse as well as healthcare providers. If additional assistance is needed, once again public safety can be involved, and explicit location tracking can be employed and delivered directly to responding units so the individual is intercepted as quickly as possible.

It’s all about “Contextual Priority”, that Kevin Kennedy described in his recent blog. Kevin gives a great example about context, and how the interpretation of that context changes the picture, again and again. Speaking of the “judgment of context”, Kevin says:

“When we have context, we can make a judgment about the information. For example, if you hear that John shot Sally, your first response may be that his action was wrong. But then you learn John shot Sally because she pointed a gun at him, so your opinion changes because you think it was self-defense. Next, you discovered John is a US soldier and Sally a terrorist. Now you think: That’s war! It’s totally justified . . . Until you find out Sally was six years old. Puts yet another spin on it, doesn’t it?”

While some with “Big Brother Syndrome” will look at NG911 is our downfall into a mire of social control, clearly the health and safety benefits outweigh the concerns.

Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

Read my other AVAYA CONNECTED Blogs

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he provides the strategic roadmap and direction of Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, and co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the EU, where he provides insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

When I Call 911, Are the Police Entitled to my Location Data?

When I Call 911, Are the Police Entitled to my Location Data?
 
Unfortunately, it was inevitable. As our nation’s 911 centers rolled out the technology that allowed people to send text messages to public safety dispatchers, pranks and false alarms were bound to happen.

In a recent case out of West Virginia, a 19-year-old woman was arrested after allegedly texting police, claiming she had been kidnapped and locked in the trunk of a car. Police say they followed the GPS coordinates of the texts, and discovered the woman safe in a tent; no kidnapper in sight.

In a criminal complaint, department officials said they wasted time and effort finding the alleged prankster, pulling them away from other important police work.

This case raises important questions around data privacy when calling or texting 911. While it may be easy to say that privacy and location sharing should be an implied opt-in, there are valid arguments about whether this functionality could be compromised by hackers, allowing location data to fall into the wrong hands.

The technical quandary of how to share additional incremental data with police from mobile devices and networks will soon be put to rest with the build-out of next-generation 911 emergency IP networks. Once we have the tools, who will answer the privacy concerns that this capability will raise?

While this debate is likely to continue for many years to come, it does highlight the inherent value of additional incremental data that can be provided to emergency responders. We have to be careful that privacy questions don’t overshadow the value of environmental situational awareness—for example, being able to view live footage of a fire or bank robbery, streaming from someone’s smartphone inside the building.

New technology always requires new regulatory and legislative thinking, especially when questions revolve around personal privacy.

Should public safety be granted an assumed “opt-in” for location and information sharing on a text or call to emergency services?

Or should we rely on apps deployed within public safety environments to query the device, receiving explicit permission each time like this Proof of Concept from Avaya Labs developers?

I’d love to hear your comments and views on the topic.


Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

Read my other AVAYA CONNECTED Blogs

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he provides the strategic roadmap and direction of Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, and co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the EU, where he provides insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

1 hand-tossed pizza for delivery, and send the Police please

1 hand-tossed pizza for delivery, and send the Police please
 
An interesting story circling the internet recently, is one about a Highlands County Florida woman, whose quick thinking, likely save herself as well as her children, from certain harm when she added in a secret message to her online order for a small hand tossed classic pizza with pepperoni.

According to police reports, on Monday, May, the Pizza Hut in Avon Park, Florida received an online order from Cheryl Treadway that said in the comments section:

Please help. Get 911 to me  911hostage help!”  [sic]

Reportedly, Pizza Hut employees recognized the order as being from a frequent customer, but obviously, the comments included on the order were very much out of the ordinary, and the decision was made to contact the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office advising them of the odd situation.

Sheriff Deputies responded to the reported address, and were greeted by Treadway who advised them of her hostage situation. Treadway, who had one of her children with her, was immediately escorted to safety.

Deputies then began negotiating with Ethan Nickerson who remained in the home, armed with a knife and the two additional children. After a 20 minute negotiation, deputies were able to convince Nickerson to exit the residence, where he was then taken into custody. Deputies were then able to remove the two remaining children from the home unharmed.

We often talk about new ways of communications that are entering our lives; we often have discussions about how emergency calls can, and will, be placed using these or any modality possible in a time of dire need. With text to 911 being deployed deployed across the US [, the primary message from public safety is, “call if you can, text if you can’t”.

Why? Public safety officials remind us that texting does not currently include location information. If you resort to this motive communications, you must be aware of that, and make an attempt to include that in your initial contact with public safety officials. Audio adds an additional dimension to communications, has the 911 call taker can utilize sounds in the background that can help establish where a person might be, what dangers exist, or other important clues such as the sound of a person choking.

Multimedia to 911 will enable massive amounts of information in situational awareness to flow from the originator to public safety officials, and that doesn’t stop at the call taker. Video could be passed through the proposed FirstNet infrastructure directly to responders in the field where they can assess the situation prior to their arrival, or more importantly, before they take action. This recent video from my colleague Markus Bornheim, Avaya Public Safety Specialist in Frankfurt, Germany demonstrates this functionality that can be deployed TODAY in an Over The Top model:

In addition to additional data coming from personal devices, information from enterprise networks will also feed “The Public Safety Data Beast”, and ultimately allow more intelligent command-and-control decisions to be made on the fly. Call it Big Data, call it IoT (the Internet of Things), or call it IoX (the Internet of Anything and Everything) what we know for certain, is the hyper-connectivity, a concept introduced years ago, is finally here. And this incident with an online Pizza Hut order proves the point that people will communicate any way they can in an emergency. That will include voice, text, Instant Messaging, and yes, even apps.

The way we communicate is a constant evolution. New modalities, new layers of transport; the potential is as endless as our imagination. With this evolution, will come big data, and lots of it. Huge amounts of superfluous information that may be, on it’s own, irrelevant to anything, but when coupled with other data, becomes something that is greater than the sum of it’s parts. Where is the future of command and control? Buried in the data, obscured by thousands of other data points, but still there, ready for the picking. So, now that we have the data, we need the apps. We need the logic and algorithms to crunch the data, model the data into historical assumptions, and then convert that data into statistical predictions, much like we have done with weather patterns.

In addition to seasoned meteorologists, the Weather Channel worked on the data, and fine tuned forecasting beyond our wildest dreams. Now that we have access to a bunch of new cool data for public safety, and the mechanisms to keep that data current and relevant, let’s do something.

Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

Read my other AVAYA CONNECTED Blogs

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he provides the strategic roadmap and direction of Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, and co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the EU, where he provides insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

The Dichotomy of Technology

The Dichotomy of Technology

Working for Avaya, I get to see lots of technology and innovation based around communications enablement. While the bulk of that technology is designed to enable day-to-day business communications and unified user communications, some of that technology is focused on public safety-related products.

For the most part, these technologies can be segmented into three primary silos, or buckets.

The first silo is the originating network used to generate emergency communications from people in need of help. The second is the backbone network that carries the originating traffic to its destination. Finally, the third is around the public safety network that answers those calls for assistance.

For as long as emergency communications have existed, a dichotomy (or potentially a trichotomy of technology) has existed, as the pendulum of innovation swings back and forth. Each side of the equation–the public safety answering point and user–is advancing, but never at the same time, and certainly not at the same speed. Therefore, the best possible result for a common end-to-end technology is usually yesterday’s news, creating a technology gap that can be frustrating to both sides. In the enterprise, the core and the edge move more uniformly together.

Before telephones existed, most communities relied on the town crier to walk the streets delivering relevant news and information. While it may have been effective for the people it reached, its ability to scale and expand was limited by the lack of technology for communications and transportation.

When Alexander Graham Bell called out for help in his lab when he spilled acid on himself, Watson heard him over the prototype telephone, but that was a closed network, with no connectivity to the outside world.

After telephones had been invented, and were deployed widely to citizens and police departments, a person in need of help needed to know the location of where they were, the number of the agency they needed to call, as well as what was wrong.

In 1968, 911 was invented and quickly rolled out to many areas. While the access problem was solved (as calls were now delivered to public safety through a single, universal three-digit number that would be valid everywhere), public safety still had no idea who called, or from where.

As the pendulum swung forward, enhanced 911 provided emergency personnel with the billing address of record information for a phone number, however, the rapidly expanding cellular industry now allowed telephones to become more mobile.

But that swing quickly reached its apex, as no technology existed for the cellular device to report its location to public safety, let alone the network, as GPS technology was still in its infancy.

As desktop computing platform power became more affordable, a surge in technology and applications occurred that allowed public safety to automate their systems and processes on the backend, becoming more efficient and “connected.”

Advances in the cellular network added GPS functionality, but that information was only relevant to the actual cellular providers, who would in turn provide that information to the appropriate 911 call-taker regardless of where they are.

Desktop computing investments led to computers that were portable, luggable, and finally notebook-sized, allowing for easy transport.

The third player in this trifecta, the network, had been neglected since nearly day one. In the world of today’s high-speed Internet backbone, and speeds to individuals rivaling what some developing countries may have had 10 years ago, public safety has fallen into the trap of two intelligent nodes adjacent to each other, with no communication path, or one that would handle the new data types and formats available on today’s smart devices.

Building the next-generation 911 network. Where do you start?

As we get closer to delivering the next-generation 911 network for tomorrow, many network engineers and architects ponder where to start building.

This question is not as difficult as it may seem. The answer is to start wherever you can. The answer is to continue wherever you can. The answer is to complete whatever you can.

Why? Because the network–when it is ready for next-generation 911–will be able to accept and terminate next-generation 911 calls. But that can’t happen until all of the pieces are ready. Because of this, the challenge becomes establishing an operational point where you can utilize technology to deliver the services that you require today, but will allow you an easy migration into the emergency services IP network, and NG 911.

While many will be content to sit back and watch the pendulum swing from side to side, Avaya believes we have the technology, the network, and the thought leadership to orchestrate an end-to-end solution that has the required resiliency, redundancy, and uptime for this mission critical, life-saving initiative.

Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

Read my other AVAYA CONNECTED Blogs

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he provides the strategic roadmap and direction of Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, and co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the EU, where he provides insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

Who Answers Your 911 Calls at Work? The Answer May Shock You!

Who Answers Your 911 Calls at Work? The Answer May Shock You!
 
One of the best-known brands globally are the digits 9-1-1. When we hear those numbers, we immediately equate them to mean “emergency.” Even in countries across Europe and the Middle East where the emergency number is 1-1-2, or some other three digit short code, the digits 9-1-1 are well known and recognized by most people.

Television has taught us that in an emergency, this number will connect us with one of the many call takers working at one of the 6,000 Public Safety Answer Points (PSAPs) who are the unsung heroes behind today’s emergency communications infrastructure.

While this is true nearly 300 million times a year, there are cases where dialing 9-1-1 will only get you as far as an individual within your business or hotel.

The logic behind this method of call handling is usually explained away with the statement, “We want to get help to people as quickly as possible in an emergency.” While this gesture seems noble and logical, quite often there is a bigger picture that should be examined before committing to this kind of policy.

Confused? Just ask Janet Williams of Laguna Niquel, Calif. how important the role of a trained Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) was to her this past weekend, when she started choking on a cup of hot chocolate and marshmallows.

In an interview with Fox 11 LA, Williams said, “The harder I tried to breathe in, the harder it was to breathe.”

Fortunately for her, her daughters dialed 9-1-1, reaching the Orange County Fire Authority’s 911 Dispatch Center in Irvine. Following the established EMD protocols, the call taker calmed the girls down and began giving instructions that would ultimately say Janet’s life.

The following is a partial transcript of the event:

9-1-1 EMD: Listen to me Gina, okay? I want you to stand behind your mom. Gina: Yeah, I’m behind her. 9-1-1 EMD: Wrapping your arms around her waist. Gina: K. 9-1-1 EMD: Make a fist with your hand, put the thumb-side of your fist against the stomach above the belly button. Tell me when you’re ready. Gina: Okay! 9-1-1 EMD: With your other hand grab your fist. Gina: Yeah… 9-1-1 EMD: Quickly jerk inward and upward, do it now!

Fortunately, this story ends with the family reunited and safe for the holidays. But, what if this had happened at work, or in a hotel, or in another building where 9-1-1 didn’t put you in touch with public safety officials?

What if it put you in touch with Bob at the front desk, or Susan, or anyone else without proper Emergency Medical Dispatcher training?

In emergencies, seconds count, especially if you’re unable to breathe.

Would Janet have survived? Or would this blog be about another unfortunate tragedy because a telephone administrator did not have access to 9-1-1 programmed to actually reach 9-1-1 in the MLTS/PBX telephone system.

Tragically, in December 2013, Kari Hunt lost her life after 9-1-1 could NOT be dialed.

How long do we have to wait for someone else to perish because 9-1-1 is not “allowed” to be dialed, as in the tragic US post office story this past summer in Oakland Calif., or if 9-1-1 is allowed to be dialed, but an IT administrator has made the decision that those calls should be answered internally, instead of the PSAP, where trained call takers sit and await your call.

Technology? Not really a problem. Cost? Not even remotely an issue. Public awareness? That’s the real key to providing safe communications across all communications platforms that we use every day.


Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

Read my other AVAYA CONNECTED Blogs

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he provides the strategic roadmap and direction of Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, and co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the EU, where he provides insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

E9-1-1 & Location Accuracy – The Great Divide

E9-1-1 & Location Accuracy - The Great Divide
 
With all of the hype around next generation 9-1-1, additional data, video, text messages and countless new ways of reaching emergency dispatchers, the critical element, the location of the emergency, is lost in a sea of arguments. What it really comes down to, is the dispatchable address. Without that, there is little that any public safety first responder can do to provide assistance.

If the police don’t know where you are, they can’t stop the robbery. If the ambulance doesn’t know where you are, they can’t treat you and transport you to the hospital. If the fire department doesn’t know where you are, the flames will likely burn your building to the ground. But where the argument comes in, is exactly what does “where you are” mean?

When I’m in my house, and I call 9-1-1, ‘where I am’ is my street address of my residence. it’s not in the kitchen, or in the bedroom, or at the bottom of the stairs where I have “fallen, and can’t get up!”

There is been a large debate over cellular location accuracy, and while most public safety officials will agree that today, there is a reduced level of reality, when compared to perception, by the general public. Regardless of the reason, most citizens today believe that advanced cellular technology, the smart phones we all seem to carry, and the open and free access to the Internet will allow public safety specific, and even intimate, details about who you are, where you are, and what the environment that surrounds you is at the moment.

While there are certainly location accuracy issues that abound, and I don’t think that anyone on either side of the argument will deny that, the level of those inaccuracies will vary depending on who you talk too. In a recent op-ed piecepublished in the Cap Times, Ben Levitan, proclaiming himself as an expert in 9-1-1, chastised Larry Pakyz, on this op-ed piece he authored On November 5th.

While everyone has the right to disagree with anyone else, doing so in a public forum under the guise of a credentialed industry expert, is troubling. One of the statements that Mr. Leviton made was, “In an office building, 9-1-1 has always been a problem for landlines and for cellphones. You are still better off on a cellphone. At a minimum, the operator knows what cell tower to which you are connected and knows where that cell tower is located.” While I certainly can’t argue with his first sentence, where he correctly states that 9-1-1 has been problematic, I completely disagree with his second statement, stating that a tower location is “better off” for an emergency call taker, and a person who needs assistance.

Quite frankly, that statement is very disturbing. It is a well known fact that cellular location discovery technology for 9-1-1 services is only able to provide latitude and longitude (X, Y) at varying levels of accuracy depending on several different conditions. What it is not capable of providing, however, is likely the most desperately needed pieces of information, especially in a multi-story building. That information is the “Z”, or altitude of the device.

Without this important piece of information, in a 20 story building, the X,Y coordinates become almost irrelevant, as there would be 20 identical locations in that building. This will likely change the incident to be one that is a “recovery” and not a “rescue”. Despite that information, Mr. Levitan claims that the cellular tower location (which could be miles away) is actually “better than landline already”.

Although affected by several environmental conditions, it’s generally accepted that the range of a cellular base station is somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 yards or more. Taking that number and calculating the area of coverage, using the formula Pi = R², that works out to be 502,400 yd.², or nearly 104 acres. That certainly isn’t “better than landline”, and nowhere near acceptable, or a workable solution.

Enterprise location accuracy is about getting the 1st responders to the right building at the right address and then using situational awareness and on site notification to be prepared for their arrival and provide assistance, if you are able, and it is appropriate for you to do so. Understand the problem, before you provide the solution.

Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

Read my other AVAYA CONNECTED Blogs

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he provides the strategic roadmap and direction of Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, and co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the EU, where he provides insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

E911 getting a little “Smarter”?

APN2-WordPress-Icon

This blog is also available as an Audio File on the Avaya Podcast Network


Next month 911 will turn 45 years old in the US, and like many of us is getting a little wiser with age. Most people assume that the 911 system is a large intelligent network of information that knows everything about everyone. However, as the old saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out”. So, when you’re sitting in your cubicle on the 27th floor of a large office building, and you make a 911 call, but can’t speak, you can certainly expect a large gathering of emergency service personnel on the street directly in front of your building, but if you expect them to rush to your cubicle, in many cases, that’s just not going to happen because they either do not have the data, or the data they have is meaningless to them.

Typically if you call from your home you can expect a much more accurate response, mainly because there is typically a single building at a particular address, and searching a few thousand square feet is easily accomplished. But all of this just gets the first responders to the location of where they’re needed. Providing emergency health data can give 911 and first responders the tools they need to better protect you and your family.

This sounds like a great idea, however there is no mechanism in place within the 911 network, to collect store and distribute this type of information. This is whereSmart911(TM) comes into play with a service that is completely free to its subscribers. This relatively new emergency service is used in PSAPs in more than 26 states and offers you the ability to create a profile for your family that displays key details to emergency responders in the case of an emergency. When you have a profile with Smart911(TM) , the information you entered shows up in front of the call taker answering your 911 call, providing them with important information about individuals associated with a particular telephone number.

I first saw Smart911 at the APCO show in Philadelphia, two years ago, and seeing the huge value, immediately became a Smart911(TM)subscriber. The information I provided in my profile is stored safely and securely in the Smart911 private network, and includes details about my residence, the floorplan, medical conditions for all my family members, as well as medication information and doctors telephone numbers. I even include emergency contact numbers for additional relatives, as well as pictures of my daughter that could be immediately used in the case of a kidnapping for example.

In my profile, I have information about my pets and their veterinarian contact information. If there were a fire at my house, and no one was home, at least that information would be provided to public safety where they could make arrangements in the event one of my additional “family members” needed medical assistance.

When you dial 911 today, there are 240 characters available in a database record that is displayed to the dispatcher. Most of that information is taken up with important data like the street name, the house number, directional indicators such as North, South, East and West.

There simply isn’t any room to store any pertinent additional data. Next generation 911 services will solve part of this problem by including references to additional data. Although that’s coming very quickly, what I take advantage of collecting that data today and getting it into a format that can be used for next generation 911. And if you happen to live in an area that serviced by Smart911(TM), you can take advantage of that right now. If your local PSAP doesn’t subscribe to Smart911 services, there is still value in entering your information. In addition to my home telephone numbers, I have all of the mobile numbers used by my family in my Smart911 profile. That way when I’m traveling to an area like Washington DC for example, that is a Smart911(TM) subscriber, and I were to dial 911 from my cell phone, they too would see my personal profile.

If you want more information on this free service for citizens, you can visit them on the web at www.smart911.com where you can set up your free public safety profile, and enter your ZIP Code to see if smart 911 is active in your area, and you can also follow them on Twitter @smart911.

Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

Read my other AVAYA CONNECTED Blogs

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he provides the strategic roadmap and direction of Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, and co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the EU, where he provides insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

WordPress.com.

Up ↑