VoIP and 911

911 is the emergency phone call system used in North America. This 3-digit number is established to promote a quick response to emergencies such as fire, kidnapping, burglary and other crimes. This special code started in 1968 in North America using landline phones. Later on, with the advent of IP technology, it is called E911. E stands for Enhanced 911.

VoIP Phone
VoIP Phone

Today, 911 can now be called using landlines, wireless phones and VoIP phones. This emergency number systematically works from the caller to the Public Safety Answering Point. This agency is responsible for locating the caller’s location and dispatching the help needed from the nearest station.

In some counties, 1-1-2 is used for emergency calls. But across United States, 9-1-1 is adopted. Since there are several types of communication vehicles, E911 has been enhanced and made accessible by traditional telephone lines, wireless mobile phones and VoIP phones. By dialing the emergency number, the call is routed to the nearest PSAP or Public Safety Answering Point. As mentioned above, this agency will then dispatch the nearest appropriate safety agency to the caller’s location. But before it can be dispatched, the caller’s location must be located. PSAP’s role is also to locate the caller’s place. This is very easy to do if the caller is using landlines. It is different if caller is using a mobile device.

For mobile devices which are powered by wireless connections and IP, it is rather difficult to determine the exact location. This problem presents a very big challenge to the emergency dispatching team. For the record, about 80-90 percent of emergency callers use mobile phones. Hence, this probably is the biggest dilemma faced by E911 team. Mobile phone service providers are obliged to provide a service for emergency calls. Yet, still many providers are not able to do this. When it comes to location, is it not enough to just have the caller state where he or she is? The answer is no. That is most of the time unreliable.

Setting Up E911 on VoIP and other Mobile Devices

To ensure security, one must consider having an emergency number included in his or her mobile server package. VoIP service providers are responsible for providing the emergency number handy for every user. Emergency number is very easy to use as long as the mobile phone is equipped with such service from the service provider itself. Wireless and VoIP phones will have a problem in contacting e911 if connections are unavailable. Hence, the following are issues to be considered:

  • Install a landline service in your home. Since wireless phones and VoIP phones need connections to reach the emergency number, it is wise to have a landline service in your home for security purposes. Traditional phones are more reliable for the dispatching team since the location can be tracked. Also, even if there is power outage, normal phones can still reach E911.
  • If it is not possible for you to install a landline phone, save the full number of the nearest police station in your area. This way, you can call them directly in case of emergency using your mobile phone.
  • If dialing the number of the nearest police station is too old-fashioned for you, then you can try to update the setting of the nearest police station’s number and create a speed dialing for it. In that case, you can use the combination 9-1-1 that will in reality call the local police station.

About the Author:
Michelle Patterson has been learning and writing about the new IP based communication technologies. She loves sharing her information so that businesses and business owners could take advantage of these technologies.

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