Avaya announces ability to provide real-time, 911-location updates for devices in national database
Avaya this week announced that the location of IP-based enterprise phones and PBX systems deployed with the company’s SENTRY NG911 technology can be updated in a national next-generation 911 database for use by public-safety answering points (PSAPs) responding to emergency calls.
“In an enterprise environment, when an Avaya phone plugs into the network, our SENTRY NG911 solution … detects that a phone is plugged in and where in the building that device is,” Mark Fletcher, Avaya’s chief architect for worldwide public-safety solutions, said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “At that point in time, we put that location data into the national next-gen 911 database.
“So, if you make a 911 call and the PSAP queries on your phone number, they’re going to get your location. If you happen to move, we do an update on that location. It’s that simple, and we can store location, floor plans, pictures, multimedia—whatever the enterprise wants stored is shared in that database or at a URL that we put in that database.”
For PSAPs, the means that call-takers and dispatchers will receive more accurate location information more quickly and at less expense, largely because the solution does not utilize the Automatic Number Identification (ANI) and Automatic Location Identifier (ALI) systems traditionally used to process 911 calls, Fletcher said.
Avaya is conducting a pilot program of the technology in Shelby County, Tenn., and the functionality is expected to be commercially available within the next month, Fletcher said.
“It’s ready to go right now; we need to finalize pricing,” he said. “The goal is that this will be much less expensive than any of the other 911 solutions on the market, because we’re not dealing with all of the ANI/ALI charges.”
Bypassing the traditional ANI/ALI process also is critical ensuring that PSAPs have relevant location information about an enterprise phone that can be moved regularly, Fletcher said.
“Today, I’ve got to use an ANI/ALI record that’s held by the carrier,” Fletcher said. “I’ve got to create the data, I’ve got to send it to them, they’ve got to validate it, and they’ve got to store it. That process takes 24 to 48 hours. So, when I provision a phone, maybe 24 hours from now, the data I put in will be put in that database. And, if I move the phone, I’ve got to submit a change, so that data doesn’t go live for 24 hours. I could have moved five times.
“So, the best [information that PSAPs are] getting is where I was 24 hours ago. That doesn’t work in today’s mobile environment. In 24 hours, I could be in my home office, my New Jersey office or my Santa Clara, Calif., office. What good is that? This is real-time, up-to-date info.”
Although the Avaya solution delivers the enhanced location information to a next-generation 911 (NG911) database, it can be accessed by PSAPs using legacy 911 infrastructure—they do not need to be compliant with i3 or any other NG911 standard, according to Fletcher.
“By the technical definition, it is not [NG911], because I’m not delivering IP content over a SIP call into the PSAP. I’m actually delivering it over the top, but I’m delivering NG911-like content,” Fletcher said. “The end result is the same thing, and I’m doing it without a next-gen 911 network.”
The SENTRY NG911 solution does not require an Avaya PBX to be deployed to deliver the new location data to PSAPs, although an Avaya PBX with SENTRY does allow for some higher-level functionality, Fletcher said.
“Our product can work on any PBX, including cloud-based services,” he said. “If it can make a phone call, it will work.”
Fletcher said that inputting location information into the national 911 database—designed originally to store location information associated with cellular calls to 911— “really was a simple integration” once Avaya learned of the interface to the system.
“We were already collecting all of the information. I had it in the enterprise; I just needed a way to get it to the PSAP,” Fletcher said. “There were fields that were already there [in the database] that we could populate—address, floor, latitude, longitude, accuracy and, most importantly, there was an open field where we could put a URL.
“By putting a URL in that field, that allows the PSAP to basically click back into the enterprise, and now we could share whatever content we want, and we could make the content dynamic. The cool part of that is that I don’t have to talk to anybody when I change something.”
An Avaya press release described the location-delivery capability as “unprecedented” in the industry.
“Avaya communications solutions are the first to provide location discovery for devices and place that data into a national Next Generation 911 (NG911) repository, making that information readily available to first-responders, helping enable them to more accurately locate the position of the caller’s device as well as access additional critical information when calls are made from an Avaya communications system,” according to the press release.
Improving location information for all calls has been a priority for the 911 community for years, and the Avaya technology represents an important step, according to Irwin Lazar, vice president and service director at Nemertes Research.
“Proper routing of 911 calls and providing accurate caller location to emergency services operators are the fundamental components of a successful enterprise 911 strategy,” Lazar said. “With soft client adoption increasing by 30 percent—and mobile UC clients by 34 percent—by the end of 2019, Avaya’s solution addresses a growing market need to ensure accurate location identification of 911 callers from any device.”