Municipalities Upgrade to E911, Laws to Enforce VoIP Emergency Services

Jan 05, 2012

Enhanced 911, also known as E911, saves lives by speeding emergency response to the precise location of a 9-1-1 caller. And if it weren’t for this technology to save the day in St. Louis Park, Minn. last summer, a challenging situation could have been made much worse.

After a construction crew accidentally cut through fiber-optic cables, the city’s public safety answering points (PSAPs) were left out of commission. However, service was able to be resumed quickly. Because the city had converted its telecommunications infrastructure to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), PSAP traffic was rerouted to neighboring Minnetonka with only a 30-minute lapse in service, according to a new report by Government Technology.

One of the best reasons to convert to VoIP is the obsolescence of existing 911 call centers, the report says, listing other benefits including the portability it offers PSAP operators.

“The technology driving these centers has not changed significantly in decades, and is now so far behind the times that upgrading existing infrastructure is impractical,” Government Technology said.

The ability of an Internet-based system to shift calls to an alternate location can literally be a lifesaver, especially when an emergency call center finds itself on the run from a natural disaster or other forces.

In fact, 16 states currently have legislation on the books requiring businesses, schools and government agencies to provide E911. Other states are currently considering similar legislation, which targets multi-line telephone system (MLTS) operators and includes PBXs, IP call servers and Centrex systems, according to E911 provider RedSky.

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