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NG911 Arriving: Are You Ready?


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Every fall, for the last several years, as Enterprise Connect planning for the following year commences, the planning team reaches out to ask me, “Are there still 911 topics to discuss next year?” And for each year, my answer is always a resounding “YES!” This year is especially relevant – we are marking the transition in our annual 911 panel from the term E911 for the newer, and more encompassing, NG911. As panelist and colleague Martha Buyer wrote a few weeks ago in her session preview, panelists are coming to the discussion with a number of topics that are top of mind as the evolution from E911 to NG911 commences.

NG911 offers potential to improve public safety by allowing phones and calling apps to use available resources such as network devices, location management servers, and GPS, to determine their location in real-time, rather than relying on a database that may not be up to date, especially in open offices or for hybrid employees. It offers potential for 911 callers to share additional information with first responders ranging from sensor data, to floorplans, to cameras.

As Mark Fletcher noted in Martha’s post, NG911 is here now. However, many -- dare I say most -- companies are not ready. In fact, many are still not even compliant with the existing regulations that govern 911 dialing, on-site call notification, and dispatchable location as required by Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’s Act. Metrigy’s 2023 study of 440 organizations found that just 62.7% of participants said their organization was fully compliant with both Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’s Act. Almost 11% said that they didn’t believe their organization needed to be compliant. More than 15% didn’t know the status of their compliance. These data points are consistent with what we’ve seen in the past as many in telecom roles still don’t fully understand existing regulations or what it even means to be compliant. Obviously, this will be a topic of discussion at our panel.

Compliance, as well as support for NG911, may also create confusion as companies increasingly adopt UCaaS for all or part of their communications environment. There may be a belief that the UCaaS provider will own responsibility both for initial setup as well as ongoing management of user location information, but capabilities vary greatly among providers.

And now, there’s a new wrinkle as new fixed-mobile convergence solutions, using the mobile phone’s native dialer, now enable mobile phones to function as true endpoints on an enterprise phone system. In all examples that I have seen, placing a 911 call from an FMC-enabled mobile phone results in the 911 call being handled by the mobile carrier’s network, not by the UCaaS provider. This means the enterprise has no on-site notification that a 911 call has been placed, and no ability to ensure accurate location information. Mobile carriers may be able to triangulate a caller’s location within a small area, but they likely won’t know from what floor, office, or cubicle the call originated from. And front desk personnel will not have any awareness that a 911 call has been placed from within the building -- meaning they cannot direct first responders to the caller.

Ownership of 911 compliance is another area for exploration. Typically telecom managers have been responsible for managing configurations, testing, and implementing move / add / change policies to ensure that location databases are accurate. But failure to comply creates an organizational-wide risk in terms of reputational harm, liability, and most importantly, to the health and safety of employees and contractors working within a non-compliant facility. Often telecom managers are not in close contact with local 911 facilities to ensure that they understand the needs of emergency call center operators and the availability of NG911 support.

So again, yes there are a lot of topics to discuss and I invite you to join us at Enterprise Connect on Wednesday, March 27 from 2:00 - 2:45 PM in Osceola B for “Next Generation 911: Are We There Yet?” 

Enterprise Connect 2024 will be held at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, FL, from March 25-28. Preview the conference schedule or register to attend. To keep on top of all Enterprise Connect developments, subscribe to the weekly newsletter.


About Metrigy: Metrigy is an innovative research and advisory firm focusing on the rapidly changing areas of workplace collaboration, digital workplace, digital transformation, customer experience and employee experience—along with several related technologies. Metrigy delivers strategic guidance and informative content, backed by primary research metrics and analysis, for technology providers and enterprise organizations