E911 Service is now available with UC Voice
Events such as network or power outages may prevent UC Voice from working. In these situations, users should use a cell phone, landline phone, or campus e-phone.
E911 stands for Enhanced 911. Unlike standard 911, E911 provides the 911 call center with the caller’s phone number and location. Much like the limitations of E911 with cell phones, it is imperative that UC Voice users are aware of the current limitations of E911 and Lync.
One of the benefits of Lync is that it is portable. UC Voice users can make Lync calls from any location with internet access as long as they also have access to the Microsoft Lync software client and are logged into their account. Needless to say, this benefit can create some serious limitations when it comes to providing proper location information to 911 call centers. The Internet connection used may not automatically correspond to a specific geographic location; therefore, whoever receives the call may not automatically receive the correct geographical location information. Specifically, 911 calls made over the wireless network on campus may provide less accurate location information.
Accessing emergency services by dialing 911 using UC Voice may be limited in the following ways:
- A 911 call placed using the UC Voice may not connect to the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), which dispatches emergency personnel to assist a 911 caller.
- A 911 call may ring to the administrative line of the PSAP, which may not be staffed after hours, or by trained 911 operators.
- When making a 911 call, UC Voice may not automatically transmit phone numbers and/or location information to the PSAP.
- UC Voice will only be available while the campus network is available. Thus, UC Voice users should not rely on the University to provide 911 service during times when the network is unavailable, during times of building or campus power outages, or during periods where the service has been announced as unavailable.
- If the University has to remove an infected or compromised computer from the network, then both the phone and 911 services will not be available.
- If a UC Voice user makes a 911 call while connected to a remote access service, such as a VPN or remote desktop service, the location information may not be available or provided to the PSAP.
- An off-campus 911 call placed using the UC Voice may not be routed to the correct PSAP.
- When using UC Voice off-campus, over a wireless network connection, over a VPN, or through a remote desktop service, 911 calls should be made through a traditional landline or cell phone.
Initially the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did not regulate VoIP service providers with regards to 911. The FCC changed their approach in 2005 and set forth several requirements that all providers of VoIP service – including the University – must follow. CITES is working diligently with UIPD (University of Illinois Police Dept.), METCAD (Champaign/Urbana Public Safety Answering Point), and a 3rd-Party vendor named "911 Enable" to provide the best possible E911 solution to campus. While the CITES solution is cutting edge, there are certain inherent limitations to integrating E911 with Lync that CITES is currently unable to fully mitigate.
CITES is making every effort to provide the best E911 service available, but a number of factors are beyond CITES’ control. The level of availability of E911 service through VoIP service has many possible points of failure that don’t exist on traditional phone lines. These circumstances include, but are not limited to, power outages, loss of network/internet connectivity, and delays in updates to registered location information. For this reason, CITES strongly recommends the use of a traditional landline phone or cell phone when it is necessary to call 911.
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) requires the University to obtain and keep a record of affirmative acknowledgement by every subscriber (UC Voice users), both new and existing, of having received and understood the advisory statement provided on the E911 Acknowledgement page. It is required that UC Voice users read the advisory statement about E911 and UC and acknowledge that they have read the statement.
Additionally, the CFR requires the University to distribute stickers to its existing subscribers, warning that E911 service may be limited or not available when using Lync. CITES is providing CITES Unit Coordinators (official list of CUCs) these E911 warning stickers for distribution to their unit/department UC Voice users. These stickers are to be placed directly on or near all Lync-enabled devices (phone, desktop, laptop). If users need stickers, CITES is suggesting they contact their UC Support Staff, which include IT Professionals and CITES Unit Coordinators.
Units, departments, and users from across campus have started asking a variety of questions on emergency services with UC Voice and its software component, Microsoft Lync. The UC at Illinois E911 FAQ page is a great resource for getting answers to those frequently asked questions.
Standard 911 as we know it today was first deployed in 1968 and provided a way for a caller to quickly contact the local police station. E911 stands for Enhanced 911. Unlike standard 911, E911 provides the 911 call center with the caller’s phone number and location.
The first major metropolitan deployment of E911 was in Chicago in the mid-1970s. With the advent of cell phones, providing the correct location information became much more difficult. The standard ways of obtaining location information tied to a phone line, such as a billing address or jack number, were no longer valid due to the device being mobile. 911 call centers needed a new way to obtain the correct location information for emergency personnel, and this is where the need for an enhanced 911 came about.
Cell phones are still a long way from providing reliably accurate location information, but starting December 31, 2005, the FCC required that 95% of a network operator’s in-service phones be E911 compliant (i.e. able to provide location information). Currently, location information can be provided by triangulation among cell towers or through GPS if the device supports GPS.
By September 11, 2012 wireless network operators will have to provide the latitude and longitude of callers within 300 meters within 6 minutes of a request by a 911 call center.
E911 use with UC Voice, Microsoft Lync, or other voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services has many of the same limitations as E911 with cell phones today. Both services share the same root issue – portability makes it difficult to provide an accurate location. This page is intended to help campus users take the proper steps on their end to ensure more reliable location information in the case of an emergency.