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RedSky Deploys E911 Solution at Large, Multi-Site Healthcare Facility


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May 20, 2009

RedSky Deploys E911 Solution at Large, Multi-Site Healthcare Facility

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

Healthcare organizations – especially larger groups whose main facilities may include separate buildings and sprawling campuses – generally are among the first to leverage technology to ease communications and cut costs.

Recently, one integrated healthcare system in Minnesota – an organization that includes more than 8,000 employees working in more than two dozen sites – migrated to Nortel’s (News - Alert) (News - Alert) Communications Server 2100, or “CS 2100.”

In this case, the attorneys working on the deal on behalf of that healthcare group – St. Louis Park, Minn.-based Park Nicollet Health Services – recommended that the organization include an enhanced 911, or “E911,” solution as part of its migration. E911 is a technology that uses location-based services to help emergency responders find people making 911 calls, saving critical time.
The move made legal sense, since Minnesota state law long has required – as more and more states do – that multi-line telephone systems provide a call back number and emergency response location.
It also makes practical sense, as more and more businesses leverage technologies such as IP and LBS for all communications, from e-mail and phone calls to faxing and emergency response systems. In Park Nicollet’s case, Project Manager Scott Jensen set out to find an E911 partner that could address 25 sites.
He didn’t have to look far. The Nortel CS 2100 is only compatible with one company’s offering – Chicago-based RedSky Technologies.
“The RedSky (News - Alert) Professional Services team responded to our needs in a timely way throughout this project,” Jensen would later say.
Park Nicollet implemented RedSky’s E911 Manager, which automates the E911 process and aids organizations navigating this down economy by minimizing the number of staffers needed to oversee the system.

RedSky’s senior vice president, Nicholas Maier, told TMCnet that healthcare providers have grown and evolved far beyond just hospitals.
“Now Healthcare providers have IP based communications systems that service not only hospitals with multiple buildings, but multiple hospitals with multiple locations plus remote office parks with doctors and medical services office,” Maier told TMCnet during an interview. “There may be dozens or hundreds of separate buildings all connected to a central IP-PBX (News - Alert).”
One feature of Park Nicollet’s tailored E911 system is its ability to serve several disperse facilities at once, alerting on-site security across more than two dozen sites in the event of a 911 call. In general, the industry seeing more and more advanced technologies, including IP- and LBS-based services, accommodating mobile and remote workforces.
According to Maier, hospitals are emerging as leaders in deploying in-building WiFi (News - Alert) telephony systems because of the need to reach doctors and nurse immediately for patient care.
“These workers are highly mobile and can be anywhere within the hospital,” Maier said. “That is why RedSky is expanding its support of 911 calling to VoIP WiFi phones by working with the major WiFi platfrom providers like Aruba, Cisco (News - Alert) and Mere.”
In Park Nicollet's case, the deployment focused at first on the remote locations, where RedSky used a so-called “network discovery approach” to create an exhaustive network map. That’s a critical piece of an E911 solution, since that mapping is what makes it possible to pinpoint the location of a 911 call. At the larger facilities, RedSky used a “network regions,” where a range of IP addresses are assigned to a specific geographic area, and location information is then automatically assigned to stations logging on in at that area.
“Park Nicollet also added RedSky’s EON module, which provides immediate notification to Park Nicollet security when a 911 call has been placed from their facility,” RedSky officials say. “EON also provides the exact location of the caller allowing Park Nicollet personnel to either respond to the caller or assist emergency responders in reaching the caller quicker upon their arrival.”
The results have been overwhelmingly positive. Jensen said he’s impressed with how RedSky has navigated the large-scale deployment – a herculean task. To date, 16 of 25 sites have received E911 protection, and the companies say the final six sites will come on line within two years.
When that’s done, all 3,000-odd IP phones will be able to be used across the entire Park Nicollet campus, and all callers on those devices will have the protection of RedSky’s E911 Manager.
Park Nicollet “has the peace of mind that comes with knowing that its employees, patients and visitors are protected in the event of an emergency and that local emergency response professionals will be able to quickly determine the exact location of a 9-1-1 caller in need,” officials say.

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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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