An interview with Lev Deich, vice president of delivery operations at Intrado/911 Enable

For the past decade, Lev Deich has been helping businesses, schools and government organizations deploy the network infrastructures that support internal users connecting to 911. He recently sat down to share an inside look at the state of 911 for the enterprise, providing his perspective on what the future holds for technology innovations.

How does 911 work in the enterprise?

Organizations like corporations, hotels, hospitals or educational institutions operate a PBX (private branch exchange) that allows network users to efficiently share external phone lines. The best enterprise 911 solutions ensure that, when someone within that network dials 911, the local PSAP is provided with not only the caller’s physical address but, ideally, a precise location, such as building name, floor number or wing.

What challenges do organizations typically encounter when trying to implement an enterprise 911 solution?

In the past, organizations had one phone system per building, but VoIP technology has introduced additional complexities. The top challenge for public safety now is that there is likely to be a single PBX, with end users dispersed across different buildings, regional locations or home offices.

Unfortunately, when an enterprise user calls 911, the address often received by the PSAP is the location of the data center where the PBX is housed and not the caller’s physical location. Obviously, from a public-safety perspective, this is not an ideal solution.  

In addition, the tools and technologies available to users are evolving. Today, 911 callers may be trying to connect using a variety of devices—cell phone, home-office phones, laptops or tablets.     

Finally, regulatory compliance is complex and varies by geography—so much so that

911 Enable [part of Intrado’s operations] posts resources on our website to help our customers decipher the various requirements.

Are enterprises primarily concerned about meeting regulatory compliance?

More than half of 911 Enable’s customers are in areas that aren’t regulated, yet I consistently see these organizations go above and beyond any typical government mandates to protect the safety of their students, their workforce or their customers.

A frequent requirement—one that is not mandated but has enormous implications for a successful emergency-response outcome—is to simultaneously notify both the local PSAP and on-site security (or designated responder) when a 911 call is made from an enterprise network. This alerts the appropriate personnel that emergency responders are in transit, so steps can be taken to ensure unrestricted access to the location. In addition, a designated on-site responder can be alerted and potentially assist any victims until help arrives.

Enhanced emergency communication can shave seconds, or even minutes, off response times—which, in some situations, can literally be the difference between life and death.