Using the Cloud

Using the Cloud

Finding ways to improve response times

Today, cloud applications are all the rage and for good reason. The cloud allows us to work and play in ways that are so much more productive and engaging. The cloud also removes the burden of deploying and managing complex enterprise applications within the business.

Let’s look at how the cloud is revolutionizing emergency response.

The government created a nationwide emergency call system, known as the 911 system, in 1968. It provided the incentives for the existing monopoly carriers to adopt a national 911 system and as a result the technology architecture adopted in 1968 has survived in its current form to this day, although it has been modified and added to in order to support cell phone 911, VoIP and SIP.

A New Standard

The legacy architecture cannot be adapted to support the most meaningful enhancements to emergency response. Features like text 911, video streaming of 911 events, dynamic geo-spatial routing of 911 calls require a new architecture and that architecture, the NENA i3 standard, is where we are heading.

Several of the key elements of the NENA i3 architecture have already been put in place and are in use today to provide 911 emergency response. While these elements interface with legacy 911 networks, they live in the cloud and they point the way to a fully cloud based national 911 system.

Here are a few of the elements of the NENA i3 architecture that are already deployed:

  • Location aware phones. The newest phones from Polycom, Skype, Broadsoft and Yealink request a location object when they register on the network. They store this location object, called PIDFLO, and, if the phone makes a 911 call, the PIDF-LO is sent in the SIP signaling stream.
  • SIP trunking and SIP communications. Many enterprises have made the transition to SIP trunking, saving themselves thousands of dollars a month due to the dynamic bandwidth allocation supported by SIP. The NENA i3 architecture runs on the SIP protocol and SIP communications over SIP trunks or over the Internet is commonplace.
  • Dynamic 911 call routing. 911 calls can now be routed by cloudbased applications to any 911 center in the USA and Canada. (over 5000 Public Safety Answering Points). The call can be routed in real-time to the right 911 center and the location of the call dynamically inserted into a database so the location of the caller appears on the emergency dispatcher’s screen.
  • Geo-routing of 911 calls. Geo-coordinates an now be used to establish user location and route 911 calls to the right 911 center for the caller.

The movement toward “anytime, anywhere” communications requires technology that provides “real-time” location provisioning with the scalability of internet cloud computing. Fortunately, the NENA i3 architecture leverages SIP and the Internet for an immensely scalable solution.

Improving the Response

Let’s look at some of the features that the cloud can deliver today as services to help improve your emergency response. We identified above that Dynamic call routing is available so that a 911 call can be sent to any of the 911 centers in the USA and Canada. If you are a distributed enterprise with hundreds or thousands of offices nationwide, all connected on the same enterprise voice network, the cloud solves a huge issue for you. You can eliminate all your local trunks and connections to send out 911 calls locally and send all your calls to one point, the cloud, where the call will be routed to the right 911 center based on the location of the caller.

You’ve simplified your network and accrued cost savings all in one stroke.

But now that all your 911 calls are being sent to cloud, what else can you do? As soon as a 911 call arrives at the cloud, you or anyone in your enterprise can be notified by SMS, email or screen pop that an emergency call is in progress with the location of the caller. You can record all emergency calls and save them for archive purposes or you can have your internal security personnel listen into the call or barge into the call in order to coordinate internal resources and speed response. The cloud enables a multi-level threat notification system so the appropriate notifications can be sent to all levels of the organization as appropriate so that situation awareness is improved throughout the organization.

The cloud enables intelligent routing of 911 calls based on where the call is coming from. If you have your own internal security personnel that take 911 calls from a specific location, the cloud can intelligently route all calls that come from a specific location to emergency responders responsible for that location.

The cloud is an asset for mobile workers who might dial 911 on their UC client because it allows their location to be known even if they take their UC client home or on the road. Android and iOS apps are available that can determine the user’s location outside the enterprise and if they dial 911, the call is routed based on their location.

It is hard to beat the cloud for ease of implementation and ease of use. It is very straight-forward and cost effective to route your calls to the cloud. You manage your services via an easy to use web portal. You can purchase most services on a monthly or annual contract basis and there is no equipment to buy, install and maintain on your premise.

The cloud can dramatically improve your emergency response profile for 911 calls. You gain real-time location tracking, dynamic call routing based on location, and multilevel 911 call notification capability. These features are available now and enterprises from the smallest to the largest can benefit from cost effective cloud solutions. If you are moving or have moved to IP telephony (H.323 or SIP) or UC communications, you can solve mobility issues and distributed network issues easily with the cloud.

The network is changing rapidly and new services and features are becoming available every month. If you are looking to improve your emergency response profile and provide better service to your community, the cloud may have your answers.

This article originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of Security Today.

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