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Protecting E911


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February 06, 2013

Protecting E911

By Robbie Pleasant, TMCnet Contributor

Glitches: the bane of technology. Just a single glitch somewhere in a system can cause big problems throughout the rest of it. So when a glitch occurs in a system as important as E911, there can be big repercussions.

Glitches in E911 systems can result in a variety of problems, such as calls being routed incorrectly. In worst-case scenarios, this can even cost lives. For example, if 911 calls are misrouted to 911 centers somewhere completely different, as was the case for Muskegon County in Oklahoma, it takes extra time to get the calls to the right people, costing precious time.

So, what causes these glitches? Is it problems in technology, or is human error more often than not responsible?

Now, there isn’t a single database or reference that enterprise users can use to figure out what their 911 service area is. As such, it can be difficult to know where the calls are even supposed to be routed, and that information can constantly change.

As such, VPCs are beginning to provide a nationwide 911 network to provide a more widespread coverage. Calls are routed from the PBX (News - Alert) via SIP trunking or a PSTN push. Routing is determined by caller ID, according to pre-provisioned routing networks in the database, with manual emergency call routing services in place should that encounter a difficulty.

So if a call center operator redirects a call to the wrong location, that’s human error, not a technical glitch, but still creates the “glitch” in question. Technology is only as good as we make it, and there is no technology that can always fix simple human mistakes.

When implementing E911 in one’s network, it’s essential to make sure that everything is correct and up-to-date. Regular tests are vital, as is proper planning. Even a minor “glitch” can cause big problems, so it’s important to protect against human error as much as technical.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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