Predictive Assistance via Caller Context

Predictive Assistance via Caller Context

A concern that can exist in nearly any city, county, state, or even country, is that once an easy to remember emergency number, such as 911 in the US, 112 across the European Union, and the 999 available in the UK, has been deployed, massive misuse of the system by non-emergency calls starts to put strain on the network; equipment and even staff must now cope with the increase of non-emergency citizen outreach beyond the purpose of the service. Because there isn’t a catchall category of call types, there often isn’t a single, all-encompassing solution to the problem. Technology can help and when properly deployed, is capable of providing support for dealing with many of the strains that are put on Emergency Networks and Systems.

The Architecture Problem:

 

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Fig. 1 Silos of Call Types for Public Safety and Citizen Services

 

In the past, when we built and designed Public Safety networks, the solutions were siloed, purpose built creating disparate, disconnected islands of connectivity. An agency decided what their inbound traffic would be for that particular service, and then engineer the incoming trunks for a P.01 grade of service, meaning that 1 out of every 100 calls could be blocked during the busy hour. This is a standard level that is accepted by the Public Safety industry for Public Safety Answer Points.

But this creates a problem when a service (9-1-1 for example) receives more calls than expected. Typically, they would track analytics and call volume reports that displayed trend information. These reports guided them on the increase of the number of positions and trunks to handle the new projected call loads. You would think that expansion should not be a problem for agencies, as they are tasked with providing service to a geographic area, and when the population increases, call volumes increase and budgets should naturally increase.

Unfortunately, however, quite often population increases along with call volume, but agencies are always being asked (read demanded) to do more with less.

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Fig. 2 Interagency trunking disrupts traffic engineering formulas

While other organizations may be able to aide with the call volume, the problem of citizens dialing 9-1-1 for everything and anything still exists. Because the network was built as independent islands of service, virtual inter-agency barriers naturally evolved. In specific cases, inter-departmental trunking can be created that allows adjacent agencies to transfer calls over those facilities directly. Now the caller is communicating with the right resource that can assist them, and we have freed up the original 9-1-1 resource to allow them to take another call, but we create another problem on the back end.

 

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Fig. 3 – Emergency Services IP Network (ESInet)

Although the issue of routing is solved, the problem still exists where the limited trunking that connects the 9-1-1 center to the PSTN remains an issue and another blockage point. This blockage is easily corrected. By removing these trunks from the equation, and replacing or augmenting them with an IP pipe that is dynamically expanded and contracted as needed, based on the application of rules logic that takes into consideration the number of available 9-1-1 call takers that are currently available and ready to take calls.

 

While I realize that every Public Safety person who is reading this just got a chill up their spine, and muttered, “Your CRAZY Fletch”, this is what needs to happen to solve the problem, and is not new bleeding edge technology. in fact, local carriers have been offering SIP-based trunking to the commercial market for years. The technology has been refined and the largest contact centers in the world use this architecture to bring calls into their network, where they decide the best resource to apply to the inbound call.

BLOG-PO-Pic4With the right tools on the right network, solving these type of problems becomes simpler and a routine process in the contact center, and there is no reason why this technology and thought process cannot be applied to Public Safety Answer Points to assist in improving efficiency and reliability during large-scale national disasters. At the same time, this can also radically improve service to callers. For example, meet Ava. Ava requires 911 services on a regular basis. She is considered to be, what Public Safety has nicknamed, a ‘Frequent Flyer.’
This term is not meant to be derogatory, in fact, Ava has a medical condition that requires Emergency Transportation much more often that the average citizen, but her condition is not life-threatening.

When Ava calls 9-1-1 for medical transport, most of the time, resources are available and dispatched immediately. But on occasion, Ava’s request arrives in the middle of complete chaos. Because the 9-1-1 network is unable to differentiate Ava’s call from any other call being processed by the system, all calls are treated with the same priority level, despite the vast prior history and information that may be available. By collecting and examining this information in a context store, and associating it with a particular call event can dynamically apply specialized call handling. Simply by knowing that Ava is a frequent flyer caller, and her condition is not life-threatening, her call is answered by a Speech Recognition enabled IVR that collects the relevant information giving Ava the opportunity to escalate the call to a call taker.

N11 – More than just Emergencies

9-1-1 has been called the most widely recognized ‘brand element’ in the world. Nearly everyone is aware of the number, and despite the attempt to increase awareness of other avenues of access, 9-1-1 remains to be the winner. Unbeknownst to many in the US, several other N-1-1 services are available to citizens. In most of the cases, these are geographically routed the same way 9-1-1 emergency calls are routed to centers that are close to the caller. Following the N-1-1 format, these easy to remember numbers are as follows:

2-1-1  Reserved for the World Health Organization and Red Cross
3-1-1  Reserved for local government non-emergency services
4-1-1  Not officially reserved, but often used for local Telco information
5-1-1  Reserved for Highway and Traffic information systems
6-1-1  Not officially reserved, but often used for local Telco repair
7-1-1  TDD Relay services for Deaf, Hard of Hearing or Disability
8-1-1  Reserved for the Call before You Dig utility mark-out hotline

While these services can often provide valuable information to citizens, they are often under-publicized, and under-utilized. By consolidating connectivity in the cloud, we gain flexibility in dynamically adjusting the trunking required, and calls destined for other agency remediation. This can effectively eliminate the public education and awareness problem. While the dialed number can be an indicator of the nature of the request, calls can still be handled efficiently, and resources are no longer limited and blocked.

Proactive Citizen Outreach

When a known issue exists, reaching out to the public in an affected area can be an efficient and dynamic countermeasure that can significantly reduce the number of inquiries for more information while reassuring concerned citizens that an issue is being addressed. In addition to providing information, a query can be made to ensure no other problems exist. If the citizen does have an additional concern, the system is already ‘context aware’ of the identity of the citizen, and they can be queued up against the appropriate resource. Upon connection to the person or agency that can provide the additional information they need, information about the previous interaction can be displayed to the call taker, facilitating quicker response and better service levels.

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Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he directs the strategic roadmap for Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, in 2014 – 2015 he served as co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the European Union, providing valuable insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

Mr. Hunt Goes To Washington

Mr. Hunt Goes To Washington

It was a comfortable Spring afternoon when Hank landed at the Reagan National Airport. He was not there to see the sights, or take one of the many tours of our national treasures. Hank was there for a much more important reason, to honor the legacy of his daughter, Kari Rene Hunt, and the meaning that her life has recently become. Just 865 days earlier, after the tragic murder of his daughter in a Texas hotel room where his granddaughter was unable to directly dial 911 because the MLTS phone system required a 9 before any outside call, Hank was getting ready to tell his story to the Congressional Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. Just last year in December 2015, Hank’s Congressman, Representative Louis Gohmert (R-TX-1) sponsored H.R.-4167 (Kari’s Law Act of 2015) in the House of Representatives, and it was referred to theSubcommittee on Communications and Technology.

Many that claim that emergency calling from an MLTS is not a huge problem. When Avaya first brought this issue to the FCC in an open letter to the FCC Chairman, the Honorable Tom Wheeler on December 27, 2013, with a cc: to Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner Ajit Pai, and Commissioner Michael O’Reilly.

It was this letter, and the companion tweet on Social Media that caught the eye of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, resulting in an initial meeting with the Commissioner and his staff in January  2014. As most people are when they first hear the story, the Commissioner was astonished at the claim that many businesses, schools, and most hotels could not access 911 directly from the telephones deployed. To validate our claims, the Commissioner launched an inquiry to the top 10 hotel chains in the United States asking them these 5 specific questions about their emergency calling environment:

  • How many hotel and motel properties in the United States does your company own?
  • In how many of those properties would a guest dialing 911 from the phone in his or her room reach a Public Safety Answering Point or 911 Call Center? In such cases, does the phone system also alert a hotel employee that an emergency call has been placed?
  • It how many of those properties would the guest dialing 911 from the phone in his or her room reach a hotel employee? In those cases, have hotel employees answering such calls received appropriate training in how to respond to emergency calls?
  • In how many of those properties would a guest dialing 911 from the phone in his or her room not complete a call to anyone?
  • If your company has any properties where a guest dialing 911 from the phone in his or her room does not reach emergency personnel, what is your company’s plan for remedying the situation? If you do not have a plan, why not?

At the NENA 911 goes to Washington conference in Washington DC in March 2014, Commissioner Pai reported the results of those inquiries, which were as follows:

  • Consumers may be unable to dial 911 directly at tens of thousands of buildings across the United States.
  • American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA) survey data indicates that guests reach emergency services if they dial 911 without an access code in ONLY:
    • 44.5% of franchised properties
    • 32% of independent hotels
  • The vast majority of the 53,000 lodging properties in the United States are managed by independent owners or franchisees

While much progress has been made, as the fix for this problem is inherent in most modern MLTS/PBX systems today, the problem is still widespread. In fact, at the Choice Hotels franchise Comfort Inn, in Alexandria, where Hank and I stayed in was not able to dial 911 directly from the rooms. Recognizing the manufacturer of the telephone console that the front desk, I knew that the system was capable of doing it, yet it was not programmed properly, a poignant reminder that, without legislation and an enforcement mechanism, voluntary compliance is likely not enough to provide a solution to the issue at hand.

Fire-Pull-Box-smallTo add insult to injury just outside of Hanks room a fire alarm station pull was mounted on the wall. The instructions advising, “IN CASE OF FIRE”, you should “Pull the fire alarm and Call Fire Department (DIALL 911)”, but I guess they forgot to add “just not from the telephone in your room”.

Editor’s Note:
By the way, up here in New Jersey, “Dial” is spelled with one “L” in it . . .  just sayin’

While the subcommittee had seven public safety-related bills on the agenda for the day, they led off the witness testimony session with testimony from Hank.

 

Speaking in front of a large group is always a challenge. When that group contains only one or two people that you even know, it becomes even more challenging. It gets even worse when television cameras are trained on you; photographers are snapping away pictures, and the entire room is hanging on every word that you say. Despite this, Hank did an excellent job telling his story and making his point why the three basic tenants of Kari’s Law make sense.

  • Direct access to 911 from any device with or without an access code
  • On-site notification that the event has occurred and from where
  • No local interception of the call, unless by trained individuals

These capabilities, coupled with the NENA model legislation that recommends reporting to the PSAP by building, floor and emergency response zone, a safe environment for any building can be established.

This model is functional, efficient, and most importantly, affordable. It does not require a unique telephone number on each telephone device with an Automatic Location Information database record associated along with it, incurring monthly costs. This solution provides public safety with the information needed; when they need it. For larger more complex enterprise deployments, these solutions are completely in line with the NENA i3 Next Generation 911 Framework. This framework allows networks to contribute real-time information such as floor plans, heat sensor information as well as information about the facility, such as the location of nearby fire equipment or AEDs.

Getting to the right facility is important, as noted in my recent blog discussing the role of ANI/ALI and additional data in Next Generation 911 network environments. But the additional data and situational awareness will provide detail to the incident that can save time and lives in faster and appropriate response.

In addition to the House bill introduced by Representative Gohmert, a companion bill S. 2553  was introduced in the Senate by US Senator Amy Klobuchar (D.-Minn), and US Senator Deb Fisher (R.-Neb.) along with Senators John Cornyn (R.-Texas), Ted Cruz (R.-Texas), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). Senator Klobuchar is no stranger to 911. A former prosecutor and the co-chair of the Next Generation 9-1-1 Caucus. The NG911 Institute supports the Caucus, who last year awarded Hank with the “Carla Anderson – Heart of 9-1-1” Advocacy Award: Presented in memory of the Institute’s past Executive Director, Carla Anderson, who recently passed away. This award recognizes an individual or organization whose contribution to public safety mirrors the passion and commitment demonstrated by Carla for 9-1-1. Avaya graciously provided sponsorship for this award, and I had the extreme honor to present this to Hank at the 2015 Event in the Rayburn House Office Building.

 

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Hank Hunt  Commissioner Ajit Pai, Fletch

Gohmert-Fletch-Hank-April-16

FletchHank Hunt, Representative Louie Gohmert

Fischer-Fletch-Hank-April-16

FletchSenator Deb Fischer, Hank Hunt

Cornyn-Fletch-Hank-April-16

FletchHank HuntSenator John Cornyn

Klobuchar-Fletch-Senate-April-16

 Fletch, Senator Amy KlobucharHank Hunt

In an effort to raise awareness about MLTS/PBX 911 programming and compliance, and to support initiatives behind Kari’s law, Hank Hunt has created a 501 (c)3 Non-profit organization: The No Nine Needed Foundation, http://NoNineNeeded.com where you can follow the progress on the initiatives and make a donation to help support the cause.

Print

The Change.Org Petition remains active at http://Change.Org/KarisLaw should you wish to add your name to the list of 550,000 supporters from around the world.

Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911
Read my other AVAYA CONNECTED Blogs

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he directs the strategic roadmap for Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, in 2014 – 2015 he served as co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the European Union, providing valuable insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

The future of ANI/ALI in NG911 Networks

The future of ANI/ALI in NG911 Networks

What is ANI?

ANI is Automatic Number Identification. The ANI is a 10-digit Telephone Number (TN)  associated with a device originating a 9-1-1 call. The ANI may be the actual number of a device, such as at your home; it may be a number that represents your Billing Telephone Number (BTN). This representation is often the case when calling from a business MLTS / PBX; it also may be called an Emergency Location Identification Number (ELIN), often used to indicate a more granular location within a business, especially in large campus or building environments.

What is ALI?

ALI is Automatic Location Identification. The ALI information is the ‘911 call location data’ that is displayed to the 9-1-1 call taker on their computer display when answering 9-1-1 calls. The company designated as the State E911 provider provides the maintenance of the ALI database. As telephone numbers are installed, decommissioned, and moved from address to address, the carriers generate Service Order Interface records, and these are used to update the ALI database.

ANI-ALI-AvayaThe format of the ALI records is defined by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and designates the size and order of the fields containing information such as Business Name, Apartment or Suite number, Street Address with Suffix and Prefix, City and State, as well as other fields of relevant information.

While several variants of the record format exist, all have a specific field used to populate the location information of a device. Depending on the ALI version in use in a particular area, these location fields only contain between 11 and 60 characters of information. For a telephone to have an ALI record associated with it, there must be a unique corresponding ANI or Telephone Number. It is this unique number requirement, and the monthly recurring charges from the LEC, that makes the use and management of this process for 9-1-1, both complex and costly. This leaves the level of detail as the remaining value of the information, also known as the “ALI Granularity” covered in detail below.

ALI Granularity

There continues to be considerable debate on ALI Granularity or the precision of the location information contained in the ALI record. For example, in our homes, and on our home telephone lines, the level of granularity is the address of your home. If you call from the bedroom, the living room, or the kitchen, the same address gets reported. The reason for this is because all of the telephone devices share a single phone line, and therefore a single telephone number with the 9-1-1 network. The telephone company uses your Caller ID as your ANI for billing purposes, and to decide what 9-1-1 center your call should be routed to. In the Emergency Network, this functionality is known as Selective Routing. When the call arrives at the PSAP, specialized equipment extracts the ANI and uses it to query a database housed by the Local Exchange Carrier for a matching ALI database record. This record contains the billing address, or ALI information, associated with that ANI. This is location information, commonly referred to as the Dispatchable Address, is used to dispatch particular units to the specific incident.

While most of us have homes that are single buildings at single address locations, the same is not always true for commercial MLTS PBX systems. For example, if you are in a corporate campus environment with multiple buildings, it is important to at least send a unique ANI telephone number for each building on the property. This allows the PSAP 9-1-1 call taker to best understand the address to give to 1st responders.

Get that Fire Truck out of my lobby!

There are constant and considerably important discussions taking place amongst industry professionals regarding the level of detail of an address that is considered to be suitable for the dispatch of emergency services.While industry experts regularly debate the pluses and minuses of the various methods, these discussions often spark deep debates. Fire-Truck-In-LobbyUnfortunately, very little thought is given to those who have to actually perform the task of responding, and therefore, most evidence that is offered appears to be anecdotal at best and by those that have no real-life experience.

At one extreme, “Public Safety 1st responders must have the greatest level of detail on the location of the person calling 9-1-1” is claimed. At the other end, “You can’t get the Police Car, Fire Truck, any closer than the door”, is the counterpart argument. While there may be no one single correct answer to ALI granularity, as every building and the level of on-site services is unique, IT administrators responsible for developing the 9-1-1 response plan must consider the choices.

ANI/ALI in Next Generation 9-1-1 Networks

As the country moves to NG9-1-1 architectures, the obvious question is, “What happens to ANI/ALI Data in NG9-1-1?” Quite simply, it ultimately goes away.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 9.05.51 PM

The NENA i3 Functional Framework for a Next Generation 9-1-1 network provides a mechanism for the origination device or network to supply location related information in the SIP Message SETUP Header. Any Functional Element that can use this information has access to it, and therefore the need for ANI/ALI is eliminated.

Educating Public Safety 1st Responders

Building a public safety plan for your enterprise should never be done in isolation. In addition to consulting with IT administrators, Human Resources, Facilities staff and Security personnel, local Public Safety is often forgotten in the process. The solution to this is knowing who to ask for, what to ask them, and educating them about your facility while they educate you about their job and their capabilities.

Situational Awareness

The new Gold Standard in Enterprise Emergency response Solutions is detailed Situational Awareness coupled with Emergency Response Locations (ERLs) as defined by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA). Identifying the location of the emergency to a reasonably defined area on a specific floor in a specific address, and then correlating that with on-site additional information, the response granularity concerns are addressed that satisfy the emergency first responders and the number of database records required is minimized to a level that does not waste precious financial resources on excessively granular information that is not relevant to the very people who are responding.  While detailed location information such as Cube 2C-231 is very specific, the chances that an external first responder will have sufficient knowledge of the building and location of that designation are minimal. On the other hand, INTERNAL emergency response personnel need that level of detail in order to deliver prearrival care or assistance before public safety arrives on-scene, and are ready to lead the response team to the appropriate area.

9-1-1 in the Enterprise does not have to be complex, or expensive; if it is, you have likely have not addressed the problem, or invested in the wrong technology to solve the problem.

Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911
Read my other AVAYA CONNECTED Blogs

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he directs the strategic roadmap for Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, in 2014 – 2015 he served as co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the European Union, providing valuable insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

Breaker 911: 50-Year Old Technology Saves Lives

Breaker 911:  50-Year Old Technology Saves Lives

You can never know where technology will rear its head. Most of the time it is based on the future, but many times it can be based on our past. This week, I proudly turn my blog over to Professor Ima Pharceur, PhD. Professor Pharceur is the noted Chief Research Scientist at the world-class Social Media Communications and Information Sharing Institute of Technology (SMCISIT for short) in Brussels, Belgium.


 

Next Generation Citizen Band Emergency Services

There is no doubt that Social Media is deeply embedded in our daily lives today, however, it’s roots can be traced back to a Social Media craze that was popular 4 decades ago in the mid-70’s. Millions of people all over the country, and the world installed small, low powered two-way radio transmitters in their cars to talk to each other, converse with over the road truckers, and report emergencies to teams of dedicated people and police agencies monitoring CB Channel ‘9’, the official Emergency Hailing Frequency for the Citizen Band Radio Communications and Information Radio Relay System, or CBRCIRRS for short.

The Federal Communications Commission established Citizen Band Radios as a core system of low powered short-distance radio communications between endpoints on the same channel within the possible 40 channels that all exist in the 27 MHz (11 m) band.

This frequency range is distinct and separate from the existing Family Radio System (FRS), General Mobile Radio System (GMRS), Multi Use Radio System (MURS), and Amateur Radio Service commonly known as “ham” radio systems.

Unlike it’s more powerful cousins the Ham Radio, operation often does not require a license, and it may be used for both business or personal communications, and refrigeration is not required as with most Ham products. Since the frequencies, better known as channels, are open in nature, any user can share the channel in a simplex type of operation. This means that while one station transmits; other stations listen and wait for the channel to be available.

Initially, 23 channels were assigned by the FCC, however due to popularity in the late 70’s and 80’s, a massive increase in use was seen, and the FCC allocated and additional 17 frequencies, bringing the total to 40. To remain backward compatible with radios already in place, Channel ‘9’ remained as the designated emergency channel.

Today, with Next Generation Emergency Services on the cusp of deployment across the US, and with 3.5 Million professional truckers on the road in the US, that is potentially 14 Million individual eyes or ears that are keeping watch over every quarter square mile if distributed evenly.

CB-911-CircuitWith most radios in use today being digital in nature, the addition of a new additional channel, specifically designed for NG911 usage is a simple low-cost addition to nearly any radio transmitter. In an effort not to ‘step on’ existing communities and their usage of the existing public airways, this new technology, patented by the SMC Institute, uses a new Bi-Polar Wave Guide Induction Ionosphere Relay Circuit or B-PWIIRC for short, to create a new dynamic frequency waveguide that is capable of transmitting information at speeds equaling 100 Gbs, which is perfect for voice, video, text, email, IM, Internet Relay Chat, TTY-TDD, and Morse Code, making it 100% backwards compatible with technology.

200px-CrazyeddieThis very well may be the thing that brings corporations like RadioShack and Syosset, NY-based Lafayette Electronics back into business, and there are rumors that the estate of ‘Crazy’ Eddie Antar is interested in setting up mobile sales venues in Truck Stops and Shopping Malls across the northeast.

Next Generation Emergency Services expert Mark J. Fletcher, ENP from Avaya was quoted as saying, “I’ve run the numbers myself, and what they are claiming seems to work out, mathematically speaking. Obviously, rigorous interoperability testing will be required.” Fletcher added that he see’s several uses for the product, like summoning local drones and passing truckers to emergent events, because they “usually carry band-aids, and many times are armed.”

The system is only compatible with 911 solutions today, but being digitally based, there are already models on the drawing board for 112 and 999 solutions in the UK and Europe. With the 3D printing capabilities that exist now, anything that is on the drawing board is a real possibility.


 

Thanks to Doctor Pharceur for his tireless work on this topic, and I hope that he keeps the hammer down, and things are clean and green as he brings this technology to fruition. Happy April 1st everyone!

Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911
Read my other AVAYA CONNECTED Blogs

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he directs the strategic roadmap for Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, in 2014 – 2015 he served as co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the European Union, providing valuable insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

GUEST BLOG: Leaving a Legacy 9-1-1 Style

GUEST BLOG: Leaving a Legacy 9-1-1 Style

Those who have chosen 9-1-1 as a career have a unique legacy. They have chosen to work in a job of self-sacrifice. Frankly, the financial rewards aren’t commensurate with the sacrifice of family and emotional toll the job takes. I am also always taken back by how active our “industry” is in fund raising for fellow telecommunicators or responders that are having issues or just the willingness to volunteer time to help in charitable causes or even to further the industry itself. The NG911 standards development process itself is a testament to volunteerism.

Additionally, telecommunicators are in the unique role of rarely seeing the results of their daily efforts and sacrifice. Unlike the EMT who revives a patient, or the law enforcement officer who prevents an altercation from escalating, those manning the phones rarely see the outcome of their efforts (whether positive or negative). It is for this reason, stress management is such a critical issue for telecommunicators. There is rarely closure on an incident.

Unfortunately, those serving in 9-1-1 rarely see the impact they have on those they are helping. As we approach National Telecommunicator week (April 10-16, 2016) and reflect on the profession, I’m glad to see the number of awards honoring those who go beyond the call of duty (shameless plug for our own Smart Telecommunicator awards), but I can’t help but think of all the lives impacted that our industry doesn’t know about or never hears from. Our engineering and services team loves to hear about how our products helped in a response. It is encouraging and motivating and I’m always getting pumped for more details. I work with a non-profit that helps expectant mothers. It is always a joy for the volunteers when those mothers come in and show off their new babies. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a better way for our telecommunicators to get some of that kind of feedback on the results of their efforts? Even if just a short optional survey at the end of a shift for the responders?

Even if we often don’t have the feedback that would be so encouraging, I’d like those of you who man the radios and phones to think about the legacy you passed on this week that you may never know about. The father that will come home to his family because of the rapid dispatch of EMS, the young woman that was safely removed from a violent situation because you recognized something wasn’t right in her voice, or maybe it was just a confused elderly caller that you coached to call a loved one who was able to help them. I’m sure the legacy you left on those families will be more impactful than a winning tip for blackjack.


Thanks for that excellent article Todd. It is something that we all should think about and consider in our daily jobs. The things we do today, may live on for decades to come, and we must set the ultimate example of best practices and procedures for those behind us to follow.  To the tens of thousands of Public Safety Officials that provide us with a safe environment, to you I say, “Thank You”, your efforts are greatly appreciated.

 

Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911
Read my other AVAYA CONNECTED Blogs

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he directs the strategic roadmap for Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, in 2014 – 2015 he served as co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the European Union, providing valuable insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

When the Media gives a killer a voice . . .

When the Media gives a killer a voice . . .

This post initially appeared on Hank Hunt’s Facebook Page. For those of you that are a regular reader of my Blog, then you understand the close bond I have with this family and the true tragedy that is behind  the situation.  

A little girl who was 9, a mandatory  telephone dial-out prefix of 9, and new laws that are sweeping the nation, state by state and now at the Federal level. Many have said over the years that “Laws exist for when ethics fail”. Unfortunately, that remains true even today, as this problem persisted for so long until legislative pressure created change.

I can assure you that for Hank Hunt, every day starts and ends with thoughts of his daughter. For me it’s an inspiration, for him, well I cannot even begin to imagine what it is. What I can do for him, is provide his voice a platform to speak to others, to get them to stop and think, not just about technology, but about themselves and doing the right thing. Hank writes:


When turning on the nightly news or picking up the local paper what are you looking for

Sports scores?
Obituaries?
National news or local news?

Who do you rely on to bring you the news about your surroundings?

What if one Sunday morning you made your cup of coffee, settled down in your favorite quiet spot, opened your morning paper to see a front page, above the headline fold a photo of the man that murdered your daughter?

Would you read it?
Fold the paper up and throw it away?

Or would you sit frozen, unable to move, a pounding in your chest when the headline suggests that this person is the “inspiration” for a law that will save lives?

That was me.

I actually knew the story would be coming out, I did not know it would give him credit for “inspiring” an initiative to save lives that is supported by many people the world over.

I say it again, he was not the inspiration for my actions concerning Kari’s Law; a law named for my daughter who was murdered in the most horrific way by the man the paper lends credit to for “inspiring” it.

He had no contribution to society the time I knew him and he doesn’t to this day.

Some have said it was my daughter Kari that was the inspiration for Kari’s Law. The fact that she paid the ultimate price for legislation that bears her name doesn’t negate the fact that, weird as it is, she was not the inspiration for Kari’s Law.

The inspiration for Kari’s Law still looks at me with eyes full of wonder and sometimes sadness. She is an active 11-year-old trying to move ahead in her life without her parents.

Put yourself in an 11-year-old child’s place, a child that at 9 years old witnessed her father murder her mother and knowing that she followed the “rules” and the “rules” failed her.

Just a few hours after my daughter’s death this nine-year-old little girl sat on my lap in the lobby of a Police Station and looked at me with eyes that will forever be emblazoned in my mind. Eyes that asked why and eyes that squarely put the blame on myself and every other adult in the United States.

Eyes that said, “ I did what you taught me to do, what my Mother, my teacher, my grandparents, the Police and The Fireman told me to do but it didn’t work.

“I tried 4 times Papa but it didn’t work”

What do you think I said?
Nothing….. what could I say; she was right.

We don’t teach children to dial a “9” first on a Multi-Line Telephone System such as those found in a Hotel or Motel, an office building, a SCHOOL or anywhere a prefix number such as 9 or 8 or 7 are required for an “outside” line.

Those aren’t the only things required by some places. I stayed at a hotel in Waco Texas that required the person using the hotel room phone to dial 6821 in an emergency. Who would that call? Even if you had an emergency would your “lessons” from the past automatically make you stop, look at the phone and “Learn” how this phone reaches 911?If you’re reading this then you probably know the story and I need not bore you with the rest.

The inspiration for Kari’s Law was a 9-year-old little girl that depended on her instruction from adults on how to handle an emergency, and those adults let her down.

Now, it’s the adults who MUST fix the mess they have created. 911 should be 911. If it isn’t available on any phone, anywhere, anytime then the instruction should be removed from every Police car, Fire Truck and Ambulance.

Hank Hunt, Kari’s Dad

www.change.org/KarisLaw
www.NoNineNeeded.com


My friends, there are a small handful of people in this world that truly impress and inspire me. I can tell you that Hank is close to the top of that list. No one would blame him if he crawled into a corner and cried away the rest of his time on Earth. Instead, he decided to promote change, make a difference, and most of all, DO THE RIGHT THING. I can tell you it is an honor and inspiration to know this man, and I appreciate all of the support that my friends have extended to him and his cause. For this, I can only say Thank You!.

Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911
Read my other AVAYA CONNECTED Blogs

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he directs the strategic roadmap for Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, in 2014 – 2015 he served as co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the European Union, providing valuable insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

Universal Access to Citizen Services

Universal Access to Citizen Services

A concern that can exist in nearly any city, county, state, or even country, is that once an easy to remember emergency number, like 911 in the US, 112 across the European Union, and the 999 available in the UK, has been deployed, massive misuse of the system by non-emergency calls starts to put strain on the network; equipment and even staff must now cope with the increase of non-emergency citizen outreach beyond the purpose of the service. Because there isn’t a catchall category of call types, there often isn’t a single, all-encompassing solution to the problem. Technology can help and when properly deployed, is capable of providing support for dealing with many of the strains that are put on Emergency Networks and Systems.

The Architecture Problem

BLOG-PO-Pic1

In the past, when we built and designed networks, solutions were siloed and purpose built, creating disparate and disconnected islands of connectivity. An agency decided what their inbound traffic would be for that particular service, and then engineer the incoming trunks for a P.01 grade of service, meaning that 1 out of every 100 calls could be blocked during the busy hour. This is a standard level that is accepted by the Public Safety industry for Public Safety Answer Points.

But this creates a problem when a service (9-1-1 for example) receives more calls than expected. Normally, they would track analytics and call volume reports that showed the trend information. These reports let them increase the number of positions and trunks to handle the new projected call load. This is normally not a problem for agencies, as they are tasked with providing service to a geographic area, and when the population increases, call volumes increase and budgets should naturally increase.

Unfortunately, quite often, population increases, along with call volume, but agencies are regularly being asked to do much more with less.

BLOG-PO-Pic2While other agencies may exist that can deal with the call volume, the problem still exists of citizens dialing 9-1-1 for everything and anything. To make matter worse since we built the voice networks as independent islands of service, we have likely, albeit unintentionally, created virtual inter-agency barriers that cannot be easily spanned.

Although inter-departmental trunking can easily be created over private or public networks, allowing agencies that have received a call better serviced by another, to simply transfer the call over those interagency facilities, while the caller is communicating with the right resource that can assist them, the original inbound resource is not freed up. This prevents the original agency from taking another call.

BLOG-PO-Pic3The problem where limited trunking connecting the 9-1-1 center to the PSTN still remains an issue, and another blockage point. This can be corrected by removing these problematic trunks from the equation; and moving to an IP pipe that is dynamically flexible where it can be expanded and contracted as needed, based on the application of standard rules logic that takes into consideration the number of available 9-1-1 call takers that are currently available and ready to take calls.

 

Of course, every Public Safety person reading this just got a chill up their spine, and muttered, “Your CRAZY Fletch”, but this is exactly what needs to happen, and this is not new bleeding edge technology. Local carriers have been offering SIP-based trunking services to the commercial market for years. The largest contact centers in the world use this basic architecture to bring calls into their network, and then they decide the best resource to apply to that inbound call.

With the right tools on the right network, solving problems becomes simpler. For example, meet Ava. Ava requires 911 services on a regular basis. She is considered to be, what Public Safety has nicknamed, a ‘Frequent Flyer’.

BLOG-PO-Pic4This term is not meant to be derogatory, in fact, Ava has a medical condition that requires Emergency Transportation much more often that the average citizen, but her condition is usually not life-threatening.

When Ava calls 9-1-1 for medical transport, much of the time, resources are available and immediatelydispatched. But on occasion, Ava’s call arrives in the middle of complete chaos. Because the 9-1-1 network is unable to differentiate Ava’s non-emergency call from any other call being processed by the system, all calls must be treated with the exact same priority level, despite the vast prior history and information that may be available. If this information was collected and examined in a context store and associated to a specific call event, the system can dynamically apply specialized call handling. Simply by knowing that Ava is a frequent flyer caller, and her condition is typically not life-threatening, her call can be answered by a Speech Recognition enabled IVR that collects  relevant information, giving Ava the opportunity to escalate the call to a call taker.

N11 – More than just Emergencies

9-1-1 has been called the most widely recognized ‘brand element’ in the world. Nearly everyone is aware of the number, and despite the attempt to increase awareness of other avenues of access, 9-1-1 remains to be the winner. Unbeknownst to many in the US, several other N-1-1 services are actually available to citizens. In most of the cases, these are geographically routed the same way 9-1-1 emergency calls are routed to centers that are close to the caller. Following the N-1-1 format, these easy to remember numbers are as follows:

2-1-1 – World Health Organization and Red Cross
3-1-1 – Local government non-emergency services
4-1-1Not officially reserved, but often used for local Telco information
5-1-1 – Highway and Traffic information systems
6-1-1Not officially reserved, but often used for local Telco repair
7-1-1 – TDD Relay services for Deaf, Hard of Hearing or Disability
8-1-1 Call before You Dig utility mark-out hotline

While these services can often provide valuable information to citizens, they are often under-publicized, and under-utilized. By consolidating connectivity in the cloud, we gain flexibility in dynamically adjusting the trunking required, and calls destined for other agency remediation. This can effectively eliminate the public education and awareness problem. While the dialed number can be an indicator of the nature of the request, calls can still be handled efficiently and resources are no longer limited and blocked.

Proactive Citizen Outreach

When a known issue exists, reaching out to the public in an affected area can be an effective and proactive countermeasure that can greatly reduce the number of inquiries for more information while reassuring concerned citizens that an issue is being addressed. In addition to providing information, a query can be made to ensure no other issues exist. If the citizen does have an additional concern, the system is already ‘context aware’ of the identity of the citizen, and they can be queued up against the appropriate resource. Upon connection to the person or agency that can provide the additional information they need, information about the previous interaction can be displayed to the call taker, facilitating quicker response and better service levels.

Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911
Read my other AVAYA CONNECTED Blogs

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he directs the strategic roadmap for Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, in 2014 – 2015 he served as co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the European Union, providing valuable insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.