Kari’s Law – Countdown to Compliance

At the time I’m writing this, 477 days have passed since I stood in the Oval Office along with Hank Hunt as we witnessed Kari’s Law becoming the law of the land. While not strongly worded as such, the intent of the law was that, from that day forward, an MLTS phone system installed or put into service would be compliant with direct access to 911 without an access code, any calls to 911 would route directly to the PSAP and not be intercepted internally, and unless an upgrade was required, the system would provide some mechanism of notification that an emergency call took place.

Any existing MLTS systems that were installed prior to that date would have a two-year grace period in which to make their system compliant, with February 16, 2020 as the final date when legislatively this would be required. While system administrators and vendors have had almost 16 months to deal with the issue, many still have not. Now, with the deadline approaching quickly, the mad rush is on to secure system capabilities, and provide safe work environments for employees and guests.

Last year at the Avaya ENGAGE Event, Hank Hunt (Kari’s Dad) graciously sat down and recorded this video message:

Hank Hunt on Kari’s Law

Just a little more than a month after Kari’s Law was signed, the president signed Ray Baum’s Act, named in honor of a popular political figure that had recently passed away. The primary purpose of this act was to reauthorize the Federal Communications Commission and establish its operating budget.

With this act being a ”must pass” piece of legislation, it is popular for many other bills that will not stand on their own to become attached to it. One of those pieces of legislation is known as section 506 of the Ray Baum’s Act, and it has recently caused a bit of a stir in the MLTS community.

In this legislation, it establishes a requirement that the FCC conclude a proceeding within 18 months examining it further requirements are needed for location reporting on multi line telephone systems. The due date for that proceeding conclusion is September 23 of this year. This section calls off the need for a dispatchable location to be provided to public safety answer points when and MLTS initiates a 911 call. BUT, as I’ve said many times before, the most critical piece of any law is the definition of specific terms, and the same is applicable here.

In the Act, a dispatchable location is defined as one that, “means the street address of the calling party, and additional information such as room number, floor number, or similar information necessary to adequately identify the location of the calling party”.

Unfortunately, this is being hyped as requiring the exact room or cube number of the caller being delivered directly to the PSAP, when in fact that information is completely irrelevant without additional context. The fact that I sit in cube 2C-231, has no meaning to anyone outside of my company.

1st responders don’t know where 2C-231 is within the building, or even what floor it is on, so it has little relevance. It is very relevant, to internal first responders within the facility, and it could be provided to public safety first responders on an electronic display, and now with context, like a floor plan. This can now be provided directly with the 911 call itself, thanks to new over-the-top NG 911 technology provided by the Rapid SOS NG911 Clearinghouse.

Screen Pop information made available to internal 1st responders and now deliverable to PSAPs via the RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse
Additional Context Available in the Enterprise

In the past, establishing 911 database records for every station within the facility created two problems. The first, was that every single device needed a unique and dialable public telephone number in order to identify itself, and secondly a unique record for each device needed to exist in the 911 ANI/ALI database, which incurred a significant monthly recurring cost. While at the surface, this seems to be useful information, it actually creates a false sense of security, as well as an administrative management nightmare, while providing minimal useful information. This is because in legacy solutions, the ability to pass additional context such as a floorplan is next to impossible.

Is this too much work, with no time to complete it?

Depending on the size and complexity of the enterprise, the 911 plan can be quick and simple to implement, or it may become a long drawn out process. This is where a waiver can help tremendously providing some additional time, where warranted. One of the initial states to adopt legislation was the State of Texas, Kari’s home State. During various hearings that took place in Austin, I suggested that waivers be granted to those that specifically apply for them, and as part of the application, the MLTS make and model number, as well as its software release be put on file, as well as evidence that a good faith effort was made to purchase a new system.

This simple clause solved a couple of primary issues. First and foremost, it forced businesses to make an effort and investigate what their situation was, and secondly it created a list of compliant MLTS systems, and release levels, which prevented unscrupulous distributors from up selling the general public when it wasn’t warranted. The waivers were good for one year, and needed to be renewed each September.

Since 2016 when the law went into place, the number of waivers filed each year has dropped by 20%, as more and more noncompliant systems were replaced with those that were compliant. As the graph below shows, in 2016, the very first year, 630 wavers we’re granted. In 2017, that number dropped significantly to 386, and in 2018 it was further reduced to only 252. Those systems granted a waiver also needed to make sure that users of their system we’re well aware of how to dial 911, with very specific placard requirements. Obviously, any new system purchased what have to be compliant upon installation.

MLTS Waivers Issued (and projected) by Texas CSEC 2016 – 2020

911 is the most critical call you may ever have to make. As manufacturers of systems globally, we make sure that our users are well aware of this problem, and that’s why we stood behind Hank Hunt’s initiative on Kari’s Law from the very beginning.

Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911
Check out my Podcasts on APN

Mr. Hunt Goes To Washington

It was a comfortable Spring afternoon when Hank landed at the Reagan National Airport. He was not there to see the sights, or take one of the many tours of our national treasures. Hank was there for a much more important reason, to honor the legacy of his daughter, Kari Rene Hunt, and the meaning that her life has recently become. Just 865 days earlier, after the tragic murder of his daughter in a Texas hotel room where his granddaughter was unable to directly dial 911 because the MLTS phone system required a 9 before any outside call, Hank was getting ready to tell his story to the Congressional Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. Just last year in December 2015, Hank’s Congressman, Representative Louis Gohmert (R-TX-1) sponsored H.R.-4167 (Kari’s Law Act of 2015) in the House of Representatives, and it was referred to theSubcommittee on Communications and Technology.

Many that claim that emergency calling from an MLTS is not a huge problem. When Avaya first brought this issue to the FCC in an open letter to the FCC Chairman, the Honorable Tom Wheeler on December 27, 2013, with a cc: to Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner Ajit Pai, and Commissioner Michael O’Reilly.

It was this letter, and the companion tweet on Social Media that caught the eye of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, resulting in an initial meeting with the Commissioner and his staff in January  2014. As most people are when they first hear the story, the Commissioner was astonished at the claim that many businesses, schools, and most hotels could not access 911 directly from the telephones deployed. To validate our claims, the Commissioner launched an inquiry to the top 10 hotel chains in the United States asking them these 5 specific questions about their emergency calling environment:

  • How many hotel and motel properties in the United States does your company own?
  • In how many of those properties would a guest dialing 911 from the phone in his or her room reach a Public Safety Answering Point or 911 Call Center? In such cases, does the phone system also alert a hotel employee that an emergency call has been placed?
  • It how many of those properties would the guest dialing 911 from the phone in his or her room reach a hotel employee? In those cases, have hotel employees answering such calls received appropriate training in how to respond to emergency calls?
  • In how many of those properties would a guest dialing 911 from the phone in his or her room not complete a call to anyone?
  • If your company has any properties where a guest dialing 911 from the phone in his or her room does not reach emergency personnel, what is your company’s plan for remedying the situation? If you do not have a plan, why not?

At the NENA 911 goes to Washington conference in Washington DC in March 2014, Commissioner Pai reported the results of those inquiries, which were as follows:

  • Consumers may be unable to dial 911 directly at tens of thousands of buildings across the United States.
  • American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA) survey data indicates that guests reach emergency services if they dial 911 without an access code in ONLY:
    • 44.5% of franchised properties
    • 32% of independent hotels
  • The vast majority of the 53,000 lodging properties in the United States are managed by independent owners or franchisees

While much progress has been made, as the fix for this problem is inherent in most modern MLTS/PBX systems today, the problem is still widespread. In fact, at the Choice Hotels franchise Comfort Inn, in Alexandria, where Hank and I stayed in was not able to dial 911 directly from the rooms. Recognizing the manufacturer of the telephone console that the front desk, I knew that the system was capable of doing it, yet it was not programmed properly, a poignant reminder that, without legislation and an enforcement mechanism, voluntary compliance is likely not enough to provide a solution to the issue at hand.

Fire-Pull-Box-smallTo add insult to injury just outside of Hanks room a fire alarm station pull was mounted on the wall. The instructions advising, “IN CASE OF FIRE”, you should “Pull the fire alarm and Call Fire Department (DIALL 911)”, but I guess they forgot to add “just not from the telephone in your room”.

Editor’s Note:
By the way, up here in New Jersey, “Dial” is spelled with one “L” in it . . .  just sayin’

While the subcommittee had seven public safety-related bills on the agenda for the day, they led off the witness testimony session with testimony from Hank.

 

Speaking in front of a large group is always a challenge. When that group contains only one or two people that you even know, it becomes even more challenging. It gets even worse when television cameras are trained on you; photographers are snapping away pictures, and the entire room is hanging on every word that you say. Despite this, Hank did an excellent job telling his story and making his point why the three basic tenants of Kari’s Law make sense.

  • Direct access to 911 from any device with or without an access code
  • On-site notification that the event has occurred and from where
  • No local interception of the call, unless by trained individuals

These capabilities, coupled with the NENA model legislation that recommends reporting to the PSAP by building, floor and emergency response zone, a safe environment for any building can be established.

This model is functional, efficient, and most importantly, affordable. It does not require a unique telephone number on each telephone device with an Automatic Location Information database record associated along with it, incurring monthly costs. This solution provides public safety with the information needed; when they need it. For larger more complex enterprise deployments, these solutions are completely in line with the NENA i3 Next Generation 911 Framework. This framework allows networks to contribute real-time information such as floor plans, heat sensor information as well as information about the facility, such as the location of nearby fire equipment or AEDs.

Getting to the right facility is important, as noted in my recent blog discussing the role of ANI/ALI and additional data in Next Generation 911 network environments. But the additional data and situational awareness will provide detail to the incident that can save time and lives in faster and appropriate response.

In addition to the House bill introduced by Representative Gohmert, a companion bill S. 2553  was introduced in the Senate by US Senator Amy Klobuchar (D.-Minn), and US Senator Deb Fisher (R.-Neb.) along with Senators John Cornyn (R.-Texas), Ted Cruz (R.-Texas), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). Senator Klobuchar is no stranger to 911. A former prosecutor and the co-chair of the Next Generation 9-1-1 Caucus. The NG911 Institute supports the Caucus, who last year awarded Hank with the “Carla Anderson – Heart of 9-1-1” Advocacy Award: Presented in memory of the Institute’s past Executive Director, Carla Anderson, who recently passed away. This award recognizes an individual or organization whose contribution to public safety mirrors the passion and commitment demonstrated by Carla for 9-1-1. Avaya graciously provided sponsorship for this award, and I had the extreme honor to present this to Hank at the 2015 Event in the Rayburn House Office Building.

 

Pai-Fletch-Hank-April-16

Hank Hunt  Commissioner Ajit Pai, Fletch

Gohmert-Fletch-Hank-April-16

FletchHank Hunt, Representative Louie Gohmert

Fischer-Fletch-Hank-April-16

FletchSenator Deb Fischer, Hank Hunt

Cornyn-Fletch-Hank-April-16

FletchHank HuntSenator John Cornyn

Klobuchar-Fletch-Senate-April-16

 Fletch, Senator Amy KlobucharHank Hunt

In an effort to raise awareness about MLTS/PBX 911 programming and compliance, and to support initiatives behind Kari’s law, Hank Hunt has created a 501 (c)3 Non-profit organization: The No Nine Needed Foundation, http://NoNineNeeded.com where you can follow the progress on the initiatives and make a donation to help support the cause.

Print

The Change.Org Petition remains active at http://Change.Org/KarisLaw should you wish to add your name to the list of 550,000 supporters from around the world.

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 directs the strategic roadmap for 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, in 2014 – 2015 he served as co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the European Union, providing valuable insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

When the Media gives a killer a voice . . .

This post initially appeared on Hank Hunt’s Facebook Page. For those of you that are a regular reader of my Blog, then you understand the close bond I have with this family and the true tragedy that is behind  the situation.  

A little girl who was 9, a mandatory  telephone dial-out prefix of 9, and new laws that are sweeping the nation, state by state and now at the Federal level. Many have said over the years that “Laws exist for when ethics fail”. Unfortunately, that remains true even today, as this problem persisted for so long until legislative pressure created change.

I can assure you that for Hank Hunt, every day starts and ends with thoughts of his daughter. For me it’s an inspiration, for him, well I cannot even begin to imagine what it is. What I can do for him, is provide his voice a platform to speak to others, to get them to stop and think, not just about technology, but about themselves and doing the right thing. Hank writes:


When turning on the nightly news or picking up the local paper what are you looking for

Sports scores?
Obituaries?
National news or local news?

Who do you rely on to bring you the news about your surroundings?

What if one Sunday morning you made your cup of coffee, settled down in your favorite quiet spot, opened your morning paper to see a front page, above the headline fold a photo of the man that murdered your daughter?

Would you read it?
Fold the paper up and throw it away?

Or would you sit frozen, unable to move, a pounding in your chest when the headline suggests that this person is the “inspiration” for a law that will save lives?

That was me.

I actually knew the story would be coming out, I did not know it would give him credit for “inspiring” an initiative to save lives that is supported by many people the world over.

I say it again, he was not the inspiration for my actions concerning Kari’s Law; a law named for my daughter who was murdered in the most horrific way by the man the paper lends credit to for “inspiring” it.

He had no contribution to society the time I knew him and he doesn’t to this day.

Some have said it was my daughter Kari that was the inspiration for Kari’s Law. The fact that she paid the ultimate price for legislation that bears her name doesn’t negate the fact that, weird as it is, she was not the inspiration for Kari’s Law.

The inspiration for Kari’s Law still looks at me with eyes full of wonder and sometimes sadness. She is an active 11-year-old trying to move ahead in her life without her parents.

Put yourself in an 11-year-old child’s place, a child that at 9 years old witnessed her father murder her mother and knowing that she followed the “rules” and the “rules” failed her.

Just a few hours after my daughter’s death this nine-year-old little girl sat on my lap in the lobby of a Police Station and looked at me with eyes that will forever be emblazoned in my mind. Eyes that asked why and eyes that squarely put the blame on myself and every other adult in the United States.

Eyes that said, “ I did what you taught me to do, what my Mother, my teacher, my grandparents, the Police and The Fireman told me to do but it didn’t work.

“I tried 4 times Papa but it didn’t work”

What do you think I said?
Nothing….. what could I say; she was right.

We don’t teach children to dial a “9” first on a Multi-Line Telephone System such as those found in a Hotel or Motel, an office building, a SCHOOL or anywhere a prefix number such as 9 or 8 or 7 are required for an “outside” line.

Those aren’t the only things required by some places. I stayed at a hotel in Waco Texas that required the person using the hotel room phone to dial 6821 in an emergency. Who would that call? Even if you had an emergency would your “lessons” from the past automatically make you stop, look at the phone and “Learn” how this phone reaches 911?If you’re reading this then you probably know the story and I need not bore you with the rest.

The inspiration for Kari’s Law was a 9-year-old little girl that depended on her instruction from adults on how to handle an emergency, and those adults let her down.

Now, it’s the adults who MUST fix the mess they have created. 911 should be 911. If it isn’t available on any phone, anywhere, anytime then the instruction should be removed from every Police car, Fire Truck and Ambulance.

Hank Hunt, Kari’s Dad

www.change.org/KarisLaw
www.NoNineNeeded.com


My friends, there are a small handful of people in this world that truly impress and inspire me. I can tell you that Hank is close to the top of that list. No one would blame him if he crawled into a corner and cried away the rest of his time on Earth. Instead, he decided to promote change, make a difference, and most of all, DO THE RIGHT THING. I can tell you it is an honor and inspiration to know this man, and I appreciate all of the support that my friends have extended to him and his cause. For this, I can only say Thank You!.

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 directs the strategic roadmap for 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, in 2014 – 2015 he served as co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the European Union, providing valuable insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

A Slice of Pai -My Interview with an FCC Commissioner

Cover Photo By: Daniel Wilson, ENP – @NewYorkWilson
LISTEN to the Podcast version of this interview on SoundCloud

Without argument, communications is at the core of all social interaction today. The agency tasked with regulating interstate and international communication that occurs by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and US territories is the Federal Communications Commission. It’s this US government agency that is overseen by Congress that maintains itself as the primary authority for communications law, regulation, and technological innovation.

The agency tasked with regulating interstate and international communication that occurs by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and US territories is the Federal Communications Commission. It’s this US government agency that is overseen by Congress that maintains itself as the primary authority for communications law, regulation and technological innovation.

Doing this provides the commission the opportunity to manage the industry by promoting competition, innovation and investment in various communication technologies that include broadband services and facilities. Through their guidance on policy and regulations the commission is responsible for things such as:

Supporting the nation’s economy by ensuring an appropriate competitive framework for the unfolding of the communications revolution

Encouraging the highest and best use of spectrum domestically and internationally

Revising media regulations so that new technologies flourish alongside diversity and localism and

Providing leadership and strengthening the defense of the nation’s communication infrastructure.

While many citizens know the FCC only as the governmental agency that fined WKRP’s Dr. Johnny Fever for saying bugger, kicked Howard Stern off FM Radio and over onto satellite, and the government ‘geek squad’ that runs around in black vans covered with antenna, monitoring for people swearing on CB radios. Something that I was afraid of when I was growing up as a teenager in the 70’s.

If they are not cracking down on foul mouthed 14 year olds, what are they doing? Well to answer that question we went to the top or as close to the top as the national police would let me get and that’s with Commissioner Ajit Pai.

Commissioner Pai is one of four Commissioners; two Republican and two Democrat, appointed by the President. They report to Congress under the direction of Chairman Tom Wheeler, also chosen by the President.

[Fletch]
Commissioner Pai, welcome and thank you for taking the time to educate the public on their FCC.

[Ajit Pai]
It’s always great to collaborate with you, I’m just glad to have a chance to see you and in person.

[Fletch]
You were one of the first Commissioners on Twitter, which really was a pretty big step for the agency. How is that going?

[Ajit Pai]
It’s been fantastic and it’s one of the things that I never anticipated taking off as it has. I first announced I was joining Twitter at our very first public meeting in May of 2012 when I became a Commissioner and some of my colleagues quietly said to me afterward, ‘You’re nuts!’.

Rule number one on the internet: “Don’t feed the trolls”, and there’s never a better way to feed them than by getting on Twitter and posting your thoughts about telecom issues.

What I found in the year since, is that people enjoy having access to public servants directly through that medium and I personally find it really rewarding to get all kinds of feedback on my work and to have people like you who’ve brought issues to my attention; Issues that might have languished in the analog age, but now thanks to this platform I can become educated and so I have found it an unadulterated good.

I’m happy to say that all four of my colleagues are now on Twitter, a number of FCC staff are now on there and it’s kind of a given now that everyone expects that people will be on Twitter so that they can learn and send messages out.

[Fletch]
A couple of people said to me, “We follow you on Twitter, Fletch, and we see Commissioner Pai tweeting, that’s not really him tweeting. That’s got to be one of his staff members.” I can tell you, knowing you, those tweets are all in your voice and that’s you behind the Twitter.

[Ajit Pai]
Much to my wife’s chagrin, it’s me constantly looking at my Twitter feeds, I try to learn things, constantly posting throughout the day. There are so many issues that the FCC has jurisdiction over, and it’s just really a great platform for me to be able to engage the American public, so it really is me. Theirs is no bot behind it, there’s no staffer. That’s the great thing about the internet age, it’s that’s really reduced the figurative distance between the government and the governed and I take the notion of being a public servant very seriously and part of that is being as responsive as I possibly can be and Twitter is the ultimate example of doing that.

[Fletch]
That’s one of the things that impresses me most with you, is that you take your job as a public servant so seriously. You’re asked to make a lot of tough decisions and, sometimes, you’ve made decisions that aren’t a popular decision, but they are the right decision. And when I listen to you defend those, the best explanation was, “I know this isn’t optimal, but this is the law right now and we have to respect the law.”

[Ajit Pai]
That’s one of the most difficult things that I’ve had to confront in this job is doing the right thing even when the political winds are against you. At the end of the day I’ve got to be able to live with my own conscience and with the hope that I live up to my oath, which is to defend the laws and the constitution of the United States. The public, as I see it, might not be the way that other people see it, but at the end of the day, that’s the way I’ve got to approach the job and do my best within the confines of the law.

[Fletch]
I think a lot of people don’t know who the FCC is really is. They are a Federal Commission, but who are they? Who do you work for?

[Ajit Pai]
In a way we all work for ourselves, so there are five commissioners at the FCC, each one of us is appointed by the President, and confirmed by the Senate.

Our terms are staggered, each of us get’s a five year term. When you get here, for better or worse, each Commissioner is like an island unto himself or herself; who are led by a Chairman who sets the agenda and who decides at our monthly meetings what we’re going to vote on. In terms of the other Commissioners you can pick what issues you want to talk about, what speeches you want to give, what statements you want to make. There’s a tremendous amount of freedom.

Ultimately not to be cheesy about it, I see my client as the American people and that’s part of the reason why I’ve chosen issues like multi-line telephone systems. Those are issues that impact real people where I can effect a change and where it doesn’t matter if I have the gavel or not. I can use my pulpit to try and improve the public safety of the American people and that’s such a rewarding thing for a small town kid from Kansas to be able to say.

[Fletch]
In a
way you work for me?

[Ajit Pai]
That’s exactly right! I hope you don’t fire me anytime soon.

[Fletch]
Speaking of that,
 your term is coming up.

[Ajit Pai]
Yeah.

[Fletch]
Obviously you don’t know [if you’re re-nominated] yet, but what’s the process to extend that?

[Ajit Pai]
My term is up in June of 2016, I could be re-nominated for another term and that’s a decision that people with a far higher pay grade than mine are going to have to make. Until they make it, I’m going to be focused on giving this term and this job my all. It’s been a privilege of a lifetime to have been here for almost four years now. I’m just grateful to the President and just to the senate for letting me have this chance.

[Fletch]
Where does that nomination come from?

[Ajit Pai]
It has to be made by the White House and traditionally [since] I’m a member of the minority here at the FCC, the Senate leader of the party at power will make a recommendation to the White House. So, in this case it would be Senator McConnell consulting with his colleagues who would have to make a recommendation to President Obama.

[Fletch]
Well, personally I think for me you’ve done a great job.

[Ajit Pai]
Well thanks.

[Fletch]
You’ve certainly carried our MLTS issue with Kari’s Law forward. That would not have happened without your pulpit, without your guidance, without the speeches. I’m going to tell you; very few people know this, but I just got an email this morning that the state of Tennessee has just entered a new bill for Kari’s Law.

[Ajit Pai]
Fantastic, but see this is a classic example where I’m not the match. I mean, I might have been the one who helped to strike it a little bit, but people like you are the ones who are banging the drum. Making sure that people are aware of this issue and my part in this was very small, as you know. It’s just as you said using the pulpit to try to broaden awareness. It’s people like, people like the [American Hotel and Lodging] industry and the others in the public safety community. Legislators like Congressman Gohmert and people in Tennessee. Those are the people who are affecting change. I’m glad to be just one part of the mosaic that’s helping to make people safer.

[Fletch]
Well if anything you’ve been the catalyst driving it forward, you given it a certain level of stature saying that this is important and it needs to be done. It was two years ago that I first met you face to face in this very office on the same chairs and the same map on the wall.

[Ajit Pai]
Yes.

[Fletch]
Here we are, we have five or six states with new legislation, several states with updated legislation. I look back on that and I say, “Wow! I’ve been able to accomplish something!”, and that’s very satisfying for me.

[Ajit Pai]
Well it’s incredible and I don’t know about you, but now whenever I check into a hotel I always look … I know you’ve done this recently, I always look at that phone and then I look at the people walking around and how many of them will never know that they are safer because of the efforts that we’ve made on MLTS. That’s the great thing about it, I mean they don’t have to know our names, but and when that emergency strikes they are not going to face that same horrific situation that Kari’s daughter did.

[Fletch]
I was out in a Staybridge in California and I checked in and there’s a big huge 911 on the door, and there was a big huge 911 on the phone and I went to the front desk and said, “Where does 911 go?” To the 911 PSAP. Where would you think it should go? Thinking a year ago that would not have been the response. I then took a picture of the phone and I tweeted it out. You liked it and re-tweeted it. The hotels have to understand, look this is not against them this is promoting them. I’m staying at someplace where I think they do the right thing.

[Ajit Pai]
Absolutely right and that issue has been such a labor of love, for me and I know for you as well. It’s the progress hasn’t been as fast as we’d like but boy once that boulder start going down the hill, I mean we’ve really got the moment and it’s just been so rewarding to work with you and with Hank and so many other in this.

Well I appreciate that, I really appreciate that, it was the right thing to do and it was the right cause.

[Fletch]
Government is changing, with all these social media. What do you see the FCC’s role in social media?

[Ajit Pai]
I think part of it is that we have to use it. I mean a lot of cases, a lot of people in government just aren’t familiar with all these new platforms that people are using and I think its incumbent upon people like me to be as familiar with every aspect of technology that people are using, because if we’re going to pretend to regulate this it would be helpful to know something about it first. I think also it’s important for us to be as open and transparent, as responsive as we can be. Part of that involves modernizing our own processes. For example it used to be the case when I came to the FCC in 2007 that your only option for filing something was in paper and you had to direct it to a certain person and there was very little online and website wasn’t as accessible as it could be.

I think with people using all these great social media platforms, we should take that as an inspiration. Modernize our own processes so that people can file complains online very easily. People can figure out how the FCC is doing very easily. They can get the information they want quickly and rapidly. That’s something I’ve tried to evangelize around the building to varied success I might say.

[Fletch]
The [FCC has] rebooted the webpage a couple of times over the past few years and it’s gotten markedly better each time around. I use the electronic comment filing system for the things that I do. But, if I have something important, I’ll email it, I’ll tweet it those work too.

[Ajit Pai]
Yeah exactly right.

[Fletch]
How does Joe Citizen reach out to the FCC? I’m not going tweet to a commissioner and say I want this fixed right away, but there’s a process to do that. How do they carry those complaints forward?

[Ajit Pai]
A part of it is you can navigate our website I mean as you said we’ve made some improvements and it’s still not optimal despite having spent several million dollars on it. Bearing that if you can’t find what you want on the website, you can always get in touch with us.

Just last week as a matter of fact a foreigner manufacturer who had a question “I want to sell my product to the United States but I don’t know exactly what authorization to get and who to talk to.” I got an email myself from this gentleman.

I put him in touch with our office of industry and technology to figure out what the answer was and so that we could finally get an answer to this person who otherwise would just be left in the dark. Same thing with consumers, I get complaints from consumers all the time and I refer them on to our Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.

Get in touch with us, email me at ajit.pai@fcc.gov. Email the other Commissioners, Tweet at us, and that’s something as you pointed earlier I do monitor that myself and so I do take it seriously.

If American people have a concern, or a complaint or gripe or a tomato I want to be able to receive it. Maybe not the tomato so much, but the rest of that I really do mean it when I say that they should get in touch with us any way that they can and I’ll try my best to give them an answer.

[Fletch]
I don’t think people realize the FCC is as public as it is. [The Public] can attend any meeting downstairs they are open to the public. People do come in and protest once in a while.

[Ajit Pai]
Right.

[Fletch]
The look on your face was priceless. You know the incident I’m talking about.

[Ajit Pai]
Yeah.

[Fletch]
Fortunately they were harmless and were escorted out, but the Commission is incredibly open and transparent and I think people just don’t realize that.

[Ajit Pai]
That’s one of the sticking things to me is that given how important the industry we regulate is, I’m kind of shocked to be honest with you that the American people don’t know about a lot of the things that we do. A lot of people think of us as the agency that goes after broadcasters for the wardrobe malfunction issue or something like that. Well given the wide set of technology is in internet and cable and satellite and all the rest of it. It’s so critical to virtually everything we do, and how we raise our kids that I’d like think that our issues are front page of the news paper kind of issues, but hopefully overtime people to come to appreciate us more.

[Fletch]
I think the commission has done a great job and I think, you personally, you bring an essence to the commission that in tune with today’s people, with today’s technologies. You understand the technology, you embrace the technology. To
me we need more people like you here.

[Ajit Pai]
If you can just tell my wife that, that’d be great. It’s always nice to get support …

[Fletch]
I’ll write you a note if you write me a note, how’s that?

[Ajit Pai]
Sounds good, it will get me out of the dog house, but I really do appreciate it. It’s one of the things that whenever this job is done I want to be able to say that I helped to make the FCC a little more accessible, a little more responsive and hopefully more forward thinking. If I can be able to say that then I’ll count my time here as a success.

[Fletch]
Now of course, you don’t do it by yourself, you’ve got an incredible staff behind you.

[Ajit Pai]
My God, yeah.

[Fletch]
How many are in the Pai organization?

[Ajit Pai]
Although I’d wish there were some vast conspiracy that I could call upon to do all my bidding in actuality it is a few really hardworking brilliant dedicated people who are in my office. I have three advisors Chief of Staff, Mathew Berry and two other advisors Nick Degani and Brendan Carr. I also have two administrative assistance Lori Alexiou and Deanne Erwin. At any given point of time we have a number of interns as well who help us on research and writing. They are honestly the brains and the bran of the operation.

[Fletch]
It always seems to be that way, doesn’t it?

[Ajit Pai]
I feel incredibly blessed to have been here at the exact same time that they were willing to step into this roles because there’s literally no way that I could do any of this without them. It’s a really demanding job anyway and if I didn’t have the benefit of their expertise and their dedication I’d be up the proverbial creek as we say back home.

[Fletch]
Well, best of luck, I hope you are re-nominated and if you’re not I hope you’re onto bigger and better things!

[Ajit Pai]
The Power Ball didn’t work out! I really do appreciate you, Mark and one of the other great things about this job has been getting a chance to meet you, to work with you, to appreciate all the things you do to make the American people safe. Whenever I get a chance I try to give you as much credit as I can because it’s people like you who really are helping us live up to the public interest.

IN CLOSING:

I greatly appreciate the Commissioner affording me this time out of his precious schedule. Over the past few years, I am proud to be able to call him not only a colleague, but a friend. Despite his position on the 8th Floor of the Commission Headquarters building on the South West side of DC,  he has stayed grounded and retained his ‘small town boy from Kansas’ roots, as well as his love for AM radio.

I am very thankful that my work has afforded me the opportunity to interact with the Commissioner, and help carve out my little mark on the industry.

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, where he provides insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

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