E911 for Remote Workers

Posted on May 5, 2020

Current global trends indicate an increasing number of employees are foregoing the traditional office experience in favor of telecommuting. In the U.S., the number of people telecommuting has increased 159 percent between 2005 and 2017. As the global workforce welcomes Gen Z, they will see this trend continue to increase and by 2028, 73 percent of all teams are expected to have remote employees.

Remote work is no longer a privilege or rarity – it’s become a standard operating model for the majority of the U.S. population. In the wake of this shift, how can companies best prepare for mobilization? As remote work continues to become the norm, businesses will need to restructure their emergency preparedness capabilities.

Regulations like Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’S Act require stringent E911 compliance. E911 – or enhanced 911 – services dispatch emergency calls to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) and pinpoint the precise location of where a call is originating from. This level of security makes it easier for 911 operators to find and dispatch support to a caller in an emergency. However, providing exact location data becomes a challenge when employees are not working in one location.

It may seem daunting to keep a distributed workforce protected, but enterprises can leverage the cloud, as VOIP enables scalable and flexible interactions between employees and customers. These services are easy to implement and expand, require little to no hands-on maintenance and have low provisioning costs.

Outlined below are a few helpful starting points for businesses to implement E911 services for remote workers.

Enable Softphone Applications

A softphone is a software program for making telephone calls over the internet using a general-purpose computer rather than dedicated hardware. By using softphones, businesses connect the teleworker to the enterprise phone system, which is hosted in the enterprise data center. Enterprises can leverage solutions like softphones that adapt with users working remotely and provide real-time location information that would help 911 operators find them in the event of an emergency.

Update Remote Workers’ Provisioned Locations

A provisioned location is the address tied to a phone number’s emergency address. Businesses can update these locations to correspond with individual employees’ locations, which can also be done by the employee if prompted at the time of log in. Provisioned locations can include the office or an employee’s home if they are working remote. By provisioning locations in this way, 911 calls are dispatched to the appropriate PSAP.

Turn on Emergency Alerts

Emergency alerts are a requirement of Kari’s Law. They notify specified individuals (i.e. employers) when an employee has dialed 911. Employers can partner with their carriers to determine if these alerts are already enabled or if they still need to be set up. Although many employees use their personal cell phones when they are working remotely, it is wise for businesses to verify device usage to make sure their employees are properly protected.

The Flowroute Numbers API lets users create, view, update and delete E911 records to provide geographic location information on their Flowroute phone numbers. You can set up IP endpoints to return a list of E911 addresses within the U.S. and Canada on your account, and then apply search filters using any of the available query parameters.

An IP endpoint is a software or hardware technology that companies use to facilitate their unified communication services. Endpoints can include desk phones, an ATA adapter, a conference phone, or a wide array of software-based endpoints.

One of Flowroute’s IP endpoints lets users create and validate an E911 address within the U.S. and Canada, which can then be assigned to any of the long code numbers on the account. Another endpoint lets users validate an E911 address regardless of whether it is a new or an existing address on the account. Other endpoints return a list of the Flowroute long code phone numbers associated with a specified E911 record. This endpoint lets users deactivate the current E911 service for their long code phone number and offers the ability to delete an E911 address associated with the account.

Companies embracing the distributed workforce and leveraging VoIP services will be best equipped to protect their employees with E911 capabilities in place. By relying on a scalable and reliable cloud-based communications platform, enterprises can gain access to robust E911 capabilities that will meet their needs.

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