What is Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act?
Most people have experienced the frustration of trying to dial a phone number using a multi-line telephone system (MLTS). No matter how many times you dial the number, you get a busy signal or a message asking you to try again. If you are unaware that an additional digit is required to reach an outside line, your stress level rises with each failed attempt.
In 2013, that scenario turned tragic. Kari Hunt was attacked and killed in a motel room in Marshall, Texas, by her estranged husband. Ms. Hunt’s nine-year-old daughter was also in the room and tried to call 911 four times, but none of the calls went through. She did not know she needed to dial a “9” to reach an outside line.
Since his daughter’s death, Hank Hunt has lobbied federal officials to require that all MLTS be designed to eliminate the need to dial an additional digit to initiate a 911 call. Finally, in 2018, he was successful, and Kari’s Law was enacted.
Under the statute, MLTS systems must be configured to support direct dialing of 911. That is, the user must be able to dial 911 without having to dial any prefix or access code. Manufacturers, installers, managers, vendors, and operators are responsible for ensuring that these systems support 911 direct dialing.
The rules also implement a notification requirement to help first responders trying to enter a building. As is often the case, first responders arrive at a multi-story facility with no indication of the location of the individual needing 911 assistance. To help resolve this scenario, the MLTS system must notify a central location with such actions as on-screen messages with audible alarms, text messages, or emails to administrators.
At a minimum, the notification should include the following information:
- Indicate a 911 call was made
- Provide a valid callback number
- Supply a location
In conjunction with Kari’s Law, a section was added to Ray Baum’s Act to ensure that a dispatchable location is sent with each 911 call.
Ray Baum’s Act
As a congressman from Oregon, Ray Baum was actively involved in legislation governing the Federal Communications Commission his entire career. In honor of his service, legislation to amend the Communications Act of 1934 was entitled Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services Act of 2018 or the RAY BAUM’S Act of 2018.
Rules were adopted that require a dispatchable location be included with 911 calls sent to a dispatch center regardless of the technology platform being used. As defined, a dispatchable location consists of a validated street address of the caller and further identifiers such as suite or apartment to help locate the calling party. All 911 calls going to a public-safety answering point (PSAP) must include this information to aid first responders in finding the caller. These requirements apply to fixed and mobile devices.
Is Your Business in Compliance?
Here is a list of questions to answer to determine if your system is compliant with Kari’s Law.
- Does your system notify relevant parties that a 911 call was made by a PBX phone?
- Does your notification system include the location of the device that dialed 911?
- Does your system allow direct dialing of 911 calls?
To be compliant with Kari’s Law, a multi-line system must identify the call as coming from an MLTS and include the location of the phone making the call. In addition, individuals must be able to dial 911 without an external digit such as a 9.
Here are three questions to determine if your system complies with Ray Baum’s Act.
- Is the building address sent in a 911 call from a PBX system?
- Does the system include sufficient information to a PSAP and on-site individuals to help locate the caller?
- Does your office building have multiple floors? If so, does the call include enough information to find the caller’s exact location?
A street address does not identify the location of the individual calling 911 if the caller is located in an office building with multiple floors or a campus with multiple buildings. MLTS should include the street address, the floor or building, or other identifying data so that first responders can locate the calling party as quickly as possible.
How to Be and Stay Compliant
Complying with Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act is not a one-time event. An MLTS must be maintained, so that accurate information is always transmitted. For example, how does your system receive updated information when a device such as a phone is moved to another location? Is there a way to track a device as it moves through the network?
For anyone using a PBX configuration, whether it is for a softphone or an IP phone, is your system set up to display a remote employee’s home address should they call 911? What about frequent travelers? Does your system have a way to provision location data in case of a 911 call?
As today’s workforce becomes more mobile, having a way to ensure that location data is up-to-date is essential. Depending on the enterprise, maintaining location data by device can add to an already-taxed IT workload. Finding the right solution to meet regulations that took effect in February 2021 can seem overwhelming, especially if your current system cannot be brought into compliance.
The TechAdvisory Group has been serving Rhode Island and New England since 1996. As a managed IT service provider, we can evaluate your existing phone system to determine if it is compliant. If it isn’t, we can work with you to find a solution that can automate and validate processes, so your IT department doesn’t have to. Contact us to discuss your existing phone system or to move to our Level5 VoIP business phone solutions. These solutions will ensure that your business is in compliance while offering additional features to help move your organization towards a digital transformation.