One important offshoot of the rise of Internet-based telephone calling, or "Voice over IP," in the past several years, has been the attendant and growing need for reliable emergency communications that integrates with the widely deployed technology.
Every year, more and more lawmakers are requiring universities, government agencies, hospitals and enterprise businesses to implement enhanced 911, or "E911," which uses location-based technology to pinpoint the exact whereabouts of distressed callers. In large or multi-level areas such as enterprise offices, a single street address is not specific enough to help emergency responders locate life- and property-threatening emergencies such as fires.
Experts say that the explosive emergence of wireless telephony, VoIP service providers and mobile broadband data and the advent of device catalysts for the services have forced the world of emergency communications to face the inadequacies of a system built on 30-year old analog telephony technology.
According experts such as Bill Mertka, vice president of product management for Chicago-based E911 solutions provider RedSky Technologies, that's led to a "frenzy of standards, regulatory, and technology development activity directed at the development of so-called Next Generation 9-1-1 systems."
"Perhaps nowhere has the need for updated emergency communications systems that can accommodate today's new communications technologies been felt more acutely than by those users of Multi-Line Telephone Systems," Mertka said.
Though it's largely overlooked by regulators, sites such as enterprises are often ahead of many carrier deployments in terms of deployment of advanced, IP-based telephony systems, and because of this, are helping to drive the innovation behind next-generation emergency communications systems.
"Unwilling, or unable, to wait for the entire 9-1-1 system to be upgraded, MLTS users, and their emergency communications systems vendors, have already begun to develop and deploy 9-1-1 systems that include the best features and capabilities envisioned for NG9-1-1 systems," Mertka said.
What's more, with trends such as more and more IP-based endpoints, including SIP-based devices, rising user mobility and more extensive fixed-mobile convergence make today's enterprise look like what experts predict for a future NG9-1-1 world.
Today, to accommodate emerging NG9-1-1 needs, so-called "best-in-class" MLTS E911 systems are emerging. They include technology that's designed to provide useful experience to both enterprise telephony administrators and Public Safety Answering Point call takers as both groups seek experience, and "lessons learned," in supporting today's advanced communications technologies and devices as they prepare for those of tomorrow.
One distinct advantage of best-in-class systems is that they can be tailored to accommodate different environments encountered across MLTS users.
Most importantly, from the core safety perspective, the systems provide real-time emergency call notification to on-site personnel at the MLTS facility.
According to experts, the best-in-class systems also are distinguished because they deliver MLTS E911 functionality through the Software-as-a-Service model.
Critically, the systems provide real world "prototypes" for some of the essential elements of developing NG9-1-1 systems, experts say. The deployment and operation, therefore, of "best-in-class" MLTS E911 systems benefits all emergency communications systems market stakeholders.
"As such, they represent one of the most cost-effective and helpful investments an MLTS owner can make," Mertka said.
Michael Dinan is a group managing editor for TMCnet, overseeing TMCnet's Web editorial team and covering news in the IP communications, CRM and VoIP industries. He also oversees production of e-Newsletters in the areas of 4G wireless technology and smart products. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan