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E911 for Hybrid Work: 3 Components to Ensure Employee Safety

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Image: Prostock-studio - Alamy Stock Photo
The mantra of 911 calling in the enterprise has and will always be: find, route, and notify.
That is, correctly find and identify the location of the device that the 911 call came from and route the call correctly and efficiently to the appropriate local emergency call center (ECC/PSAP). Finally, notify the proper emergency responders of the emergency event with the proper dispatchable location, including a valid call-back number. Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’s Act address 911 direct dialing, notification, dispatchable location, and valid call-back number requirements.
And their requirements have not changed with the advent of hybrid work and work from anywhere. Today, many employees work in a variety of locations, including an office, a remote branch, their home, a hotel room, or a coffee shop. An employee might work within a corporate campus, which could include separate and distinct buildings and or workspaces.
Enterprises that maintain hybrid work environments and/or allow employees to work from anywhere need to ensure that they satisfy the obligations laid out in both Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’S Act in those instances where such rules apply. Below, we explore three components to make this happen and look at the practical administration of E911 calling in hybrid work.
1. E911 technology for the hybrid work environment
On-campus auto-IP discovery of the dispatchable location of the non-fixed voice devices is feasible. As a user moves from one workspace to another on campus, the location information server (LIS) detects the movement and automatically reassigns the new location to the device. The LIS is either a programable function of the voice core (PBX/UCaaS) or an integrated application. For instance, Microsoft has a LIS, Cisco has an Emergency Responder application, and providers like 911inform, Intrado, 911 Secure, and RedSky provide integrated applications to various voice cores for the purpose of IP discovery within an enterprise network.
With non-fixed devices, wireless access points are assigned an ELIN/ERL. The coverage area of the access point is typically the dispatchable location. An application that pinpoints the dispatchable location on a floor plan is now available. The app allows the end-user to easily self-report their location within seconds of relocation, pinpointing on a map their exact location.
Off-campus requires either auto-reporting or self-reporting of the dispatchable location, i.e., the remote address. Unlike cellular location technology—which automatically provides GPS coordinates and depending on ECC tech—can map a location to the nearest valid address, SIP or VoIP voice devices require end users to self-report/identify their current location (dispatchable location).
Merely connecting the employee from their home or remote workspace with a voice device or application places the burden of safety on the organization. A remote location connection can be established via SIP endpoint, Citrix, VPN, MPLS, WebRTC, etc. The voice device could be a physical SIP phone or an app residing on a laptop, smartphone, or tablet; the device falls under the RAY BAUM’s Act definition of non-fixed and off-premises devices.
2. End-user tools for E911
On the campus, where wireless access points are distributed throughout the organization, a LIS can automatically detect movement and assign an updated dispatchable location. When off campus and connected remotely to the enterprise network, end users are required to self-report their dispatchable location when they physically move from one workspace to another. What tools are available to make this as easy as possible? The most basic tool is a web-based dashboard, which an end-user logs into and interacts, populating each dispatchable location as they physically move from address to new address. Upstream 911 providers like Bandwidth and Intrado often provide the dashboards which make these dashboards directly available to enterprise clients.
Applications are available that are loaded and reside (in the background) on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone automatically detect a change in IP SSID and prompt the end-user to interact with the app. The end user must choose from a historical address list or enter a new address. The apps are smart enough to suggest valid addresses to the end-user to lock-in their dispatchable location. This self-reporting is crucial for routing the call to the local ECC/PSAP while properly displaying the dispatchable location. Currently, this is the best and most efficient way to update dispatchable locations for remote end users.
3. Organizational policies and procedures
Written documentation of policies and procedures is a must within organizations utilizing an MLTS in a hybrid-work environment. Ongoing awareness and training on the proper use of the 911 application and actual 911 calling are necessary during new employee onboarding and refresher training for existing staff. All stakeholders in the organization with ties to or direct influence/responsibility to the organization’s safety protocols must contribute to these policies. Concise standard operating procedures need to be communicated across the organization.
Procedure for ongoing maintenance and care of the emergency service application and ongoing testing of the end-user applications are a must as well, and tabletop exercises are recommended on a quarterly basis.
Currently, the U.S. is upgrading the legacy 911 Emergency Services Network to a Next-Generation Emergency Services Internet Protocol Network (NG911 ESInet). When this is a ubiquitous network, and all enterprise organizations have the option to upgrade their MLTS to be fully NG911 compatible, auto-discovery of all voice devices will be a certainty, no matter where they are located.
Do you need help navigating all the options for your organization as you offer a hybrid work environment? Please reach out to us at Vita Safety Partners.

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