Get the 411 on ShoreTel 911
By Inflow Communications
Did you know that every year, roughly 66 million 911 calls don’t include location data? When every second counts, this location information is vital! When setting up a telecommunication platform, we need to ensure accurate and precise location information is sent to emergency responders. Oftentimes, our customers aren’t even aware of simple ways to configure their existing system for better emergent communications. We’ve worked with many large campuses and sites to configure their phone systems – often at no additional cost – so that accurate location details are provided to emergency providers when they are called.
In our recent webinar covering ShoreTel 911 functionality, we reviewed 6 ways to configure your system out-of-the-box. We also covered a few options that will provide even more detailed information to emergency responders with additional equipment. Below are 6 ways you can configure your ShoreTel system today.
- Caller ID
By default, the user’s caller ID is sent to 911 responders. This is one of the most common configurations. It is a simple and easy way to configure your system to send caller ID to emergency responders – just clicking a check box under the User Group is all that is needed. That said, this information is a great back up to some of the other options we will go into later – without clicking this box, the carrier will fill in the location information of the main location, which is less than ideal in emergent situations.
- Caller DID
A second option, the Caller DID will override the default Caller ID mentioned above. The emergency responders will take this information and compare it with the PS-ALI. The DID is another common configuration that is also remarkably easy to set up. In this scenario, all that’s required is that you register an address with the DID when you buy it from your telephone carrier. Sometimes this configuration is used in a school environment because many times teachers or nurses will take their phone from one school to another. This is an area where there’s a potential to send a dispatcher to the wrong address – many times the DID address doesn’t get updated with the carrier. So make sure if you’re relying on DID for location information, that the addresses registered are up to date.
Also, keep in mind there are some challenges when it comes to PS-ALI. The PS-ALI database is usually a spreadsheet form or similar and is maintained by District personnel and uploaded to the telecommunications carrier. Because of this, it’s often not accurate or out of date. Personnel are busy, have other duties, and might not always be on top of this task. To make matters worse, even when the spreadsheet is uploaded to the carrier, the delay in updating the database can take days, weeks, or even months (yes, we’ve seen this) to be updated. It’s clunky, error-prone, and slow.
- IP Phone Address Map
IP Phone Address Map is one of the most flexible default options and is often a favored option because it addresses the issues of using Caller ID and DID. This option tells the ShoreTel phone to look at the IP address being used to make the emergency call. No matter what teacher is assigned to the phone, the location information provided to the dispatcher is based on the physical phone and where the emergency call is being made.
- ShoreTel Switch
ShoreTel Switch is another option that makes any call placed through the switch have a blanket caller ID. This is often used in scenarios. Like the logical site and IP address range, this solves for IP phones moving and distributed dial tone. Since switches are often physical devises that can be deployed anywhere on the network within a campus, it call also provide more location granularity in those environments.
Location information based on the site is another option. Any call on this “site” has a blanket caller ID. This is useful for campus environments where responders would need to come to a specific main office or gate to either get appropriate direction or to simply gain access to the location of the emergency. ShoreTel is organized into logical sites that are often associated with a physical address. Like the IP address range, you can configure the ShoreTel system to out-pulse a CESID that correlates to a logical site. So just like associating the CESID with an IP address range, this method solves for moving physical phones, profiles, or sending 911 calls out to telco trunks at different locations.
- Analog Line or Carrier Override
This is the most basic way of designing outbound caller ID when a 911 call is placed, although it is probably the least conventional way. When a user dials 911, the system forces the call out a local analog line that is only used for 911 calling. Like landlines in our homes, this analog line is essentially “hard coded” with its caller ID. There is no programming that can be done in the system to alter it. Another advantage of using analog lines for 911 is that the line is powered via the local Central Office (CO). So if there is an interruption in power, the line will still be serviceable. Best practices would dictate that an analog line be used for single, small offices or branch locations.
As you can see, there are many ways to deploy a 911 solution. The technology and methodologies used should vary depending on many factors. Among many, these factors can include campus size, number of locations, number of employees or patrons, staffing, and of course budget. That said, this isn’t a part of your telecommunications solution that should be low in priority. Unfortunately, when we start working with many of our customers, we find that this is an area of significant weaknesses, which is why we’ve put together white papers and webinars for this specifically. Often, we can dramatically improve our customers’ 911 capabilities with little to no cost simply because they were uneducated on best practices and inherent capabilities of ShoreTel. Your emergency telecommunication solution should account for more than 911 calling. You need to be thinking about lockdown procedures, access control, emergency contact notification, testing protocols, and much more.
Read Now Full Whitepaper on this Subject
If you’re interested in learning more about ShoreTel 911 functionality, check out our white paper: ShoreTel K-12 Emergency Notifications & 911.
There is no downloading or collecting your information. We are just happy to share our knowledge and hope you enjoy!