What Is Kari’s Law and Does Your Business Comply?

Statistics show that Americans make over 240 million 911 calls every year. However, not all calls made to the emergency number are responded to on time due to insufficient identification and location data.

While the likelihood of a first responder reaching the distressed person is as high as 95 percent, in cases involving extension and mobile phones, the likelihood of the first responder reaching the distressed person is as low as 10%. This is primarily because these phone calls provide limited information about where the call is made to facilitate faster response.

Kari’s Law is a piece of legislation that went into effect in February 2020 that seeks to resolve the problem of insufficient location information on calls placed to 911. This law requires multi-line phone systems (MLTS) such as those used in schools, hotels, and commercial buildings to be able to connect to the emergency services when 911 is dialed from them.

Kari’s Law specifies that MLTS systems must notify the personnel on the facility that a 911 call has been placed from the premises. It looks to make it easier for people in distress to reach help by dialing 911 to get aid sooner from the first responders.

By making the personnel in the institution aware of the 911 call, the law also ensures that schools, hotel staff, or workers in a building are aware of the situation to help in the emergencies or stay out of the way of the first responders.

What Is Ray Baum’s Act?

The Ray Baum’s Act, or Section 506 of Ray Baum’s Act, is another federal law passed and adopted by the Federal Communications Commission to strengthen emergency calls placed to 911. This act complements Kari’s Law by requiring telephone systems to supply the emergency response system with critical data about the ‘dispatchable location’ of a 911 call. The act aims to reduce the response time of emergency services by making it easier for dispatch to locate the distressed caller.

FCC defines a ‘dispatchable location’ as additional information about the caller’s physical location or the subject of the emergency call. These may include the caller’s street address and additional location information such as a floor or room number in a building complex. For organizations or businesses in small buildings, a street address may be sufficient location information. However, for organizations and businesses operating in large buildings and office complexes, the telephone system must provide additional location information along with the emergency call.

Complying With Kari’s Law

Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act both target multi-line telephone systems used in the United States. They require that these phone lines offer extra safety features to make reaching 911 more accessible and intuitive. At their core, they aim to provide the first responders and staff at a facility or building with a heads up of the 911 call.

Kari’s Law requires these features in multi-line phones:

Direct 911 Calling

Many multi-line phone systems are often complicated – for a good reason. They may require that a user dials a trunk prefix, such as number 9, before dialing a number to reach outside the building. If the user does not press the prefix, the call does not go through. To comply with Kari’s Law, any call to 911 placed over the multi-line phone system must go through without requiring extra steps or prefix numbers.

Personnel Notification of 911 Call

When a resident places a call to 911 from a hotel room using a multi-line telephone system, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact room the call is coming from, even if it is connected immediately.

Kari’s Law requires such a telephone system to notify the head office in the building of the 911 call, including where the call is placed from. This law requires that the officers in charge be notified immediately via a screen popup with an audible notification alarm and even SMS and email notifications for administrators and security personnel.

The notification allows the staff to respond immediately and investigate the situation to determine whether a resident, worker, or visitor requires assistance. Since the personnel and staff will already have vital information to locate the distressed caller, it reduces confusion and delays and increases the opportunities of saving a life.

Does Kari’s Law Cover VoIP Calls?

According to the FCC, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone systems is also covered under Kari’s Law. Providers offering Fixed VoIP services must meet the requirements of Kari’s Law. Users with Nomadic or portable VoIP systems may not be required to use location tracking services that make Kari’s Law practical.

Checklist for Complying with Kari’s Law 

You just need to answer three questions about your business’ telephone system to know if you comply with Kari’s Law.

  1. Does a call placed by dialing 911 on your company phone connect directly to the emergency service?
  2. Does your phone system notify the relevant parties when a call is placed to 911 from the organization-provided PBX phone?
  3. Does a phone call to 911 trigger a notification that includes the location details of the device placing the call?

If you answered NO to any of these three questions, you might not be in compliance with Kari’s Law.

Complying with Ray Baum’s Act

Ray Baum’s act adds one critical feature to easing emergency calls that Kari’s Law lacks:

Critical Location Data

Under Ray Baum’s act, multi-line phone systems must transmit critical location data directly to the 911 call center. The data included in the call helps dispatch identify the ‘dispatchable location’ from where the call is placed. Dispatchers and first responders will easily and quickly locate the caller, thereby significantly reducing time wasted attempting to locate the caller.

Checklist for Complying with Ray Baum’s Act 

Here are three questions about your business’ telephone system you need to answer to know if you are in compliance with Ray Baum’s act.

  1. Does a call to 911 from your business’ PBX device send your location address through the 911 network?
  2. Does your organization’s PBX system send additional information to 911 call centers that make it easier to locate the caller on-site promptly?
  3. If your business or organization is located on-premises with multiple buildings or floors, are the different locations listed under separate addresses?

If you answered NO to any of these three questions, your business may not be in compliance with Ray Baum’s act.

What To Do Next

Kari’s Law came into effect in February 2020, but the Coronavirus pandemic overshadowed it. As a result, many businesses may not have realized that their telephone systems may need to be updated to comply with the new FCC laws.

Luckily, complying with these requirements is not that hard, but set up and configuration may be a little demanding depending on your telephone systems. Contact TeamSpring today to determine whether you are in compliance with these laws and how to comply if you are not.