PUBLIC SAFETY BASICS: Is your business ready for Kari’s Law, and the required 911 changes?

PUBLIC SAFETY BASICS — On February 16, 2018 Kari’s Law was signed into federal law by President Trump, a legal response to a terrible tragedy which could have been avoided.

Named for Kari Hunt Dunn, the law was championed by her family after she was killed while her 9-year-old daughter was unable to reach emergency services. Why didn’t her daughter’s multiple calls make their way to a dispatcher? Because the young girl didn’t know she had to dial “9” to reach an outside line before calling 911 at the hotel where they were staying.

Kari’s Law now requires direct dialing of  “911” be enabled in enterprise environments, and directs the FCC to develop necessary 911 calling regulations for the multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) that are commonly used for communications services in buildings, like hotels, hospitals, and most office campuses.

Businesses should be brought into compliance with new laws and regulations by February 16, 2020. So what are the implications of Kari’s Law for your business’s voice and 911 solutions?


PICTURED ABOVE: President Donald Trump makes Kari’s Law official with his signature, surrounded by supporters of the bill. 

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“Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act require all multi-line phone systems in the U.S. (like those found in hotels and offices) to enable direct dial to 9-1-1, direct routing to a 911 center, and on-site notification of a 9-1-1 call that includes a detailed “dispatchable location” to decrease response time. Signed in 2018, the laws go into effect starting on February 16, 2020.

Kari’s Law amends the original Telecommunications Act of 1934 as well as its overhaul in 1996. The bill has transformed emergency communications by mandating that public safety be built into every aspect of a telephone system. Kari’s Law makes it so that every person can easily call for help, and be easily located by emergency services.

What is Kari’s Law, and what are the Requirements?

Kari’s Law is named after Kari Hunt, who was tragically murdered in her hotel room in 2013 after multiple failed attempts by her daughter to dial 9-1-1. Medical examiners agree that had her daughter been able to reach emergency services, Kari would have survived the attack. The law is designed to ensure that anyone, anywhere can reach emergency services and that critical location data is provided with that call.

Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act require multi-line telephone systems to provide:

  • Direct dial to 9-1-1 with no prefixes
  • Direct routing to 9-1-1
  • On-site notification of a 9-1-1 call being made, with a “dispatchable location” conveyed (for example, which floor of an office building a worker is on or which classroom a student is calling from)

In addition to facing potentially devastating civil liabilities should a tragedy occur, businesses that fail to comply with the law risk fines, and may be subject to additional penalties for each day they remain non-compliant. With Kari’s Law now included within the amended Communications Act, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has the power to enforce the rules, assign judgments, and collect penalties.

Kari’s Law and NG911: Get the Facts

  • An estimated 240 million calls are made to 9-1-1 in the U.S. each year
  • The average chance of 9-1-1 getting a quick fix on location ranges from as low as 10% to as high as 95%
  • Approximately 80% of emergency calls in the U.S. are from wireless devices

What are the Consequences of Not Complying?

  • Risk of endangering employees, customers, visitors, and others
  • Fines and possible additional penalties for each day a business remains non-compliant
  • Potentially devastating civil liabilities should a tragedy occur

What is NG911?

  • NG911 is a national movement to replace the outdated emergency communications infrastructure with new IP-enabled functionality
  • This new functionality must be capable of transporting voice, multimedia data, and geospatial location information
  • This will provide critical situational awareness directly to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and first responders
  • Enterprise networks will detect and immediately route emergency call requests, no matter where or how the device is connected, while providing internal command and control dashboards for event management tracking, acknowledgement, and escalation as needed”


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