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E911: Lessons and Lies

Posted by Allison Boccamazzo on September 8, 2016 at 8:47 AM

In today’s age, the need for next-generation emergency response is at an all-time high for protection against threats, attacks and unexpected circumstances. The good news is that we are at a point where the right technology is available and can be leveraged in order to near-guarantee public safety and ensure certain outcomes are avoided.

E911_Lessons_and_Lies.pngOne such technology that is waiting to be fully leveraged is enhanced 911, or E911, which enables safety professionals (i.e. police officers, first responders, dispatchers) to identify the exact location of an individual using any sort of wireless device. This can include a mobile phone, a piece of wearable tech or a Bluetooth device.

For example, police can pinpoint the exact location of a criminal who is on the run using his mobile device. Enhanced 911 can also be used to defend against threats on a personal level. For example, a child wearing a Bluetooth connected bracelet can be located almost immediately should he or she become separated from a parent. Or, responders can pinpoint the exact location of an elderly person battling Alzheimer’s should he or she wander and become lost.

For reasons such as these, the FCC has designed and established regular transition periods to bring the nation’s communication infrastructure into full compliance in order to embrace enhanced 911. It’s a slow work in progress in the U.S., considering enhanced 911 is regulated at the state level, but the goal is to ultimately create one seamless and compliant communications system for emergency services.

What You Need to Know About E911

So, what do you need to know about E911? Allow us to debunk a couple common myths for you…

MYTH: E911 is mandated by law

As mentioned above, enhanced 911 is regulated by the FCC at the state level; however, according to the FCC, it is required that “providers of interconnected VoIP telephone services using the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) meet enhanced 911 obligations.” You can learn more about the E911 requirements for VoIP service offerings here.

MYTH: Text-to-911 is far from becoming a reality

This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The FCC makes it clear that all wireless carriers must deliver emergency texts to 911 call centers upon request. Furthermore, if a 911 call center requests text-to-911 service, the provider must deploy the service in that area within six months. You can find more information about text-to-911 requirements and considerations here.

It’s time that every carrier leverages the necessary technology to ensure next-generation emergency response, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to drive awareness and a sense of urgency around this.

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Tags: E911, Telecom

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