CRTC defines 9-1-1 best practices for multi-line telephone systems

When someone calls 9-1-1, every second counts. Getting a call from a landline or cell phone to the correct Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) with the right dispatchable location information is relatively straightforward. However, several complexities come into play when that call is placed from a multi-line telephone system (MLTS) used by a business, government, healthcare, or educational facility. Many of these challenges are understood and can be remedied in advance by thoughtful system configuration. However, failure to do so can result in an emergency response by public safety agencies being delayed or denied. Avaya helps customers reduce these risks by offering solutions specifically designed to ensure that calls to 9-1-1 are handled correctly.

In September of 2022, the CRTC announced Telecom Decision 2022-265 with a number of best practices that should be followed to ensure that 9-1-1 calls from multi-line telephone systems are handled correctly. Accordingly, the CRTC is looking for telephony service providers (TSPs) and other stakeholders to ensure that MLTS owners, operators, and users know and apply the 9-1-1 best practices. In fact, the CRTC has asked that TSPs update their service agreements to link to the best practices.

Beyond the common sense of developing and promoting these best practices, the CRTC is looking to leverage the capabilities and practices that have been built by business communication vendors and service providers in the U.S. to address the 9-1-1 requirements in response to Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’s Act.

The best practices outlined in Telecom Decision 2022-265 will eventually be published on the CRTC website. Below is a brief overview:

Access to 9-1-1

  • The dial plan should allow anyone to call 9-1-1 with or without any pre-existing dialing prefixes such as “9” to get an outside line. For example, the system should be configured to route the call whether someone dials 9-1-1 or 9-9-1-1.
  • Calls should be routed directly to the 9-1-1 service and specifically not intercepted by an internal security desk or operator who then places the call to 9-1-1.

Caller Location Information and 9-1-1 Call Routing

  • Recognizing that people, branches, corporate locations, and buildings might be located at a different address than the billing address or where the telephony equipment or service is located; and that people are mobile and that their telephone extension might not have a single address, it is critical that systems and methods be applied to know or derive the dispatchable location at the time and place from where the call is made, so that the call is routed to the correct PSAP, and with the right information.
  • While the primary focus is on processing outbound 9-1-1 calls to the PSAP, care and attention are needed to ensure that a 9-1-1 Public Safety can reconnect with the 9-1-1 caller by phone, if needed. 

Awareness and Notification Someone Dialed 9-1-1

  • While a 9-1-1 call is routed directly to the PSAP, someone onsite at the organization or facility should simultaneously be notified that a 9-1-1 call has been made This serves two purposes. First, it enables people to prepare for the arrival of first responders (e.g., opening doors, accessing elevators, clearing pathways, etc.). Second, it empowers people to contain or deal with the situation until the first responders arrive.

Avaya recommends that for the safety and security of anyone be they users, employees, contractors, customers, guests, students, patients, etc. who dials 9-1-1 from a MLTS, the call should be managed to ensure the most timely and accurate response from public safety agencies and first responders. This includes whether the communication system is a single- or multi-site environment, on-premises or cloud-based, and it should recognize the physical location of the caller (designated space, roaming a facility, or working virtually). Organizations have a moral responsibility to ensure 9-1-1 calls are handled correctly. Issues can be avoided with proper planning and telephony configuration. Failure to do so could result in harm to individuals and property, which could lead to negative reputational impact, litigation exposure, financial risk, and more. 

Multi-Line Telephone System owners and operators (in both Canada and the U.S.) are encouraged to request a free 9-1-1 audit from an Avaya Public Safety Expert or their vendor or service provider.