Why Kari’s Law? This legislation was a result of a horrific tragedy involving a young mother of three that occurred as a result of the inability to reach 911 services during this emergency situation.
Kari’s Law is a significant new government regulation to consider because of the impact to businesses relying on multi-line phone systems and the manufacturers and service providers (including providers of cloud-based unified communications service) offering them.
But what is Kari’s Law, the RAY BAUM Act and how does E911 compliance tie into it? What implications does it have for businesses like yours? Let’s dive into detail about the regulations, how it affects your company, and what you can do to follow it.
What Is Kari’s Law?
In 2013 the estranged husband of Kari Hunt Dunn murdered her in a hotel room. Her daughter attempted to contact 911 multiple times, but failed because the hotel’s phone system required guests to dial “9” before an outgoing call.
While the daughter did attempt to notify nearby hotel employees, they could not inform management due to a language barrier. Sadly, later investigations found that Kari’s death might have been avoidable had contact with emergency services been successful.
Kari’s death moved her father to start a state and later nationwide effort to pass new legislation preventing similar future cases. The result was Kari’s Law, which had unanimous, bipartisan support from the Senate and House of Representatives and became law on February 16, 2018.
The legislation stated that organizations must configure their multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) so that users can dial 911 directly without requiring prefixes, access codes or other obstacles.
Kari’s Law also requires notification support for MLTS, and it is mandatory for any system that doesn’t require hardware or software development to support this feature to meet compliance requirements. Additionally, it’s mandatory for new MLTS deployments requiring notification for emergency calls delivered to a central location at the facility where the system is installed, or to another person or organization regardless of location,
The emergency call notification must include details that a 911 call was made, the emergency response location provided to the public safety answering point (PSAP), and the callback number of the caller when technically feasible.
What Is the RAY BAUM Act (Section 506)?
The RAY BAUM Act (Section 506) requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to consider adopting rules to ensure a “dispatchable location” is conveyed with 911 calls, regardless of the technological platform used, so that 911 call centers will receive the caller’s location automatically and can more quickly dispatch responders. “Dispatchable location” is “the street address of the calling party, and additional information such as room number, floor number or similar information necessary to adequately identify the location of the calling party.” These new FCC rules were published in the Federal Register on December 6, 2019 and requires all fixed and non-fixed MTLS, interconnected voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), telephone relay services (TRS) and fixed telephony to be in compliance with the “dispatchable location” components of the regulation by January 6, 2021 (for fixed MTLS, fixed interconnected VoIP, fixed telephony and fixed TRS) or January 6, 2022 (for non-fixed MTLS, non-fixed VoIP, and non-fixed TRS).
How are Kari’s Law and the RAY BAUM Act Related?
Both Kari’s Law and the RAY BAUM Act deal with E911 and MTLS. Kari’s Law focuses on ensuring individuals have the ability to reach emergency service by directly dialing 911 (i.e. no extra digit) in business environments and requires notification to designated personnel (i.e. security or receptionist). The Ray Baum Act (Section 506) is concerned with the quality of information being provided to public safety agencies when the call is made. The combined legislation safeguards reliable, accurate and quicker access to emergency services to protect all of us when dialing 911. Further details are available on the Federal Register of the United States Government.
Why Does E911 Compliance Matter?
It’s not easy to follow all the different local, state and federal laws out there, but companies still spend resources tracking changes in legislation and finding ways to stay compliant. Why is that the case?
Protect Your Human Resources and Facilities
Your business needs to have a complete safety protocol for human resources or facilities. Complying with E911 regulations will allow you to adequately plan for the safety of remote workers, satellite campuses, etc.
Ensure Accurate and Rapid Deployment of Emergency Personnel
If your business doesn’t alert security teams and other key personnel that a 911 call has been made, or if you fail to provide a dispatchable location at the time of the call, it will most likely delay help and wastes precious time, making it difficult for emergency personnel to aid the caller. It can be the difference between life and death for the individual(s) in need.
If your business fails to comply with local regulations, the government may instill fines and other penalties or even threaten suspension in extreme cases. You’ll also lose the trust of your consumers and business partners if there is a legal action against your company.
Maintain Good Standing
Organizations must interact with the government often. In Florida, for example, companies must file reports every year and register with the state to approve certain business activities. Keeping in good standing with the government enables you to obtain credit or open bank accounts for work purposes more easily.
What Implications Does E911 Compliance Have on Businesses?
What do these developments mean for your company? As mentioned, compliance comes with its own legal and financial benefits. The way you fulfill the conditions of this law will determine how much it affects your organization and the safety of your users.
Companies relying on outdated, legacy systems should think about upgrading their emergency contact systems. Not only is it required by law, but it can improve emergency response times. If an employee undergoes a severe medical episode, getting the paramedics on the premises as quickly as possible is paramount. A lack of location information plagues many 911 calls.
After February 16, 2020, businesses must ensure their communication systems are in line with Kari’s Law. Specifically, contacting 911 should be instant. The system must inform all staff, including the front desk and security office, of the emergency. Finally, the phone system should provide information on where the call started.
As for multi-line telephone systems, the law includes unified communication (UC) platforms as well. If your business uses VoIP, make sure your service provider understands and complies with the new law as many VoIP companies haven’t implemented the changes yet.
Non-fixed VoIP services (such as Skype or FaceTime users on mobile devices) are not under this law, as the user may not have location services enabled.
How Can You Stay Compliant?
Kari’s Law does not require challenging or even expensive compliance methods. Here are some considerations your organization should consider.
- Disable any prefix (like dialing “9” before outgoing calls) in your office phone system.
- Implement notifications for personnel either through email, SMS or phone when an incident occurs.
- Install additional software or equipment if necessary. After February 16, 2020, telephone system manufacturers can sell only compliant hardware — this would be the ideal time to upgrade your business’s hardware.
- Your phone system must recognize what exact building, floor, suite or room a call originates. Emergency services need more than just an address to respond quickly.
- Consider adopting NG911, an emerging technology that intends to streamline 911 contacts by replacing outdated infrastructure.
- Allow emergency personnel to enter your building when they arrive by allowing them to access elevators, doors and keycard areas.
- Keep track of state and local jurisdictions, which may have more stringent laws in place as well. Enact additional policies if necessary.
How Voyant Helps You Stay Compliant?
Voyant is committed to continually updating our 911 network on a regular basis so we can help our customers maintain the highest level of safety protocol for their businesses. Voyant’s UCaaS platform is compliant with Kari’s Law and the RAY BAUM Act, supporting direct dial 911 and emergency response locations. Voyant also supports 933 address verification which returns the associated emergency response location for the originating telephone number.
Remember, you are enabling not only good standing with the government, but also improved safety for your clients and a lower chance of disaster in your business.
If you need additional details for achieving compliance with this ruling, consult the Federal Communications Commission’s fact sheet regarding Kari’s Law and the RAY BAUM Act. This entity is dedicated to ensuring businesses meet the requirements in a cost-effective manner.
Learn More About the Implications of Kari’s Law with Voyant
Impactful policies like Kari’s Law and the RAY BAUM Act are beneficial in many ways. They serve as an important reminder that innovation is still needed in communication technologies.
For additional questions about Voyant’s unified communications platform and its E911 compliance, get in touch with us today.