Determining the location of a 911 caller dialing from a multi-line telephone system (MLTS) — especially one using VoIP technology — has been difficult for public-safety answering points (PSAPs), but eTelemetry's E-911 solutions can pinpoint fixed-line E-911 MLTS calls, as well as improve location data for wireless phones leveraging Wi-Fi infrastructure, according to company president and CEO Ermis Sfakiyanudis.

Typically, when PSAPs receive an MLTS call, the location information merely provides the address of the business, not the actual location of the caller, which can vary greatly in high-rise buildings or campus environments, potentially resulting in the loss of valuable time as first responders try to determine the location of the caller. This has become even more difficult with the popularity of VoIP telephones, which can be moved easily from location to location.

But Sfakiyanudis said eTelemetry's location solution — leveraging the same technology the company uses to monitor the location of assets within a data network — can identify the location of a 911 call from a fixed-line VoIP phone down to the room number. The idea of developing the technology came during a trade show, when a large carrier made eTelemetry aware of the need to locate 911 callers in an MLTS VoIP environment, he said.

"[The carrier representative] said, 'VoIP phones are nothing more than PCs, essentially. If you guys can track PCs, you should be able to track VoIP phones,'" Sfakiyanudis said during a recent interview with Urgent Communications. "We took a look at it, and we actually were able to do that. We were able to use what we knew about the data network to find where the voice calls were."

In addition to being able to provide PSAPs with more precise notification — a function that eTelemetry can achieve with virtually any VoIP PBX system — it also can send emergency notifications to internal personnel. This system, which works best with Nortel's PBX offering, can notify internal security and other designated officials that a 911 call has been made, the location of the caller and even a map, if available, Sfakiyanudis said.

"If you have an HTML map of the physical plant, we can embed the link to where the 911 call is coming from into the alert, so [responders] can just click on the web link and see a map of the location," he said.

This information also could be sent directly to the PSAP, but most are not equipped to handle it at the moment, but that could change with the deployment of next-generation technology in call centers, Sfakiyanudis said.

In terms of calls made over a cellular network, the eTelemetry solution "can't help you" in terms of locating the 911 caller, Sfakiyanudis said. However, the solution could help locate emergency callers using hybrid phones that use available Wi-Fi networks, he said.

"For locations that have an access point per floor, we can get you to the access point," Sfakiyanudis said. "We can get you close."