Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act: What You Need to Know

Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act are two pieces of legislation that have been adopted and implemented by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States.

Together, they aim to provide the public with greater access to 9-1-1 emergency services while also improving emergency response outcomes.

The legislation affects US-based manufacturers, managers and operators of multi-line telephone systems (MLTS), commonly used in commercial office buildings, hotels and post-secondary campuses, and requires certain organizations to comply with each.

Implications of non-compliance include fines and other penalties, along with the risk of endangering employees, customers and members of the public and associated civil liabilities.

We examine each piece of legislation, its requirements and what you can do to ensure your organization complies below.

Kari’s Law

Kari’ Law came into effect on February 16, 2020 and it’s intent is to allow direct dialing to 9-1-1 emergency services without additional trunk prefixes or routing digits. It also requires that MTLS automatically notify designated personnel onsite that an emergency 9-1-1 call has been placed. It applies to any users based in the United States who can dial emergency services, including fixed and non-fixed MLTS and VoIP users.

The law requires that:

  • Users be able to dial 9-1-1 without using a prefix to reach an outside line (e.g. Press 9 to dial out)
    • Note that under the law, dialing “9 + 9-1-1” can still be functional, but not required.
  • MLTS send a notification to designated personnel onsite, such as a front desk or security kiosk, that an emergency 9-1-1 call has been placed.
    • The notification must include at minimum, a) the instance of a 9-1-1 call being placed, b) a valid callback number and c) information about the caller’s specific location.

The law is not explicit about the method of notification, but allows for installers, managers and operators of MLTS to use an “efficient and cost-effective notification solution.” Examples of notification solutions include audible alarms, visual alerts on monitors, text or email messages, phone calls or network-based applications.

Any organization found not to comply with Kari’s Law as of February 16, 2020 faces a USD $10,000 fine as well as a $500 fine per day found in non-compliance.

Ray Baum’s Act

Ray Baum’s Act, related to Kari’s Law, aims at improving emergency response outcomes by focusing on the importance of sharing precise location information when calling 9-1-1 emergency services.

Specifically, Section 506 of the Act introduces rules to ensure caller’s location is accurately conveyed to emergency dispatch, regardless of the technology platform used to make the call.

The Act requires that:

  • Telephone systems provide certain critical information related to a 9-1-1 caller’s “dispatchable location” to a public safety answer point (PSAP), such as a 9-1-1 call center.
  • The Act defines “dispatchable location” as “the street address of the calling party, and additional information such as room number, floor number, or similar information necessary to adequately identify the location of the calling party.”

Initial dates for compliance with Ray Baum’s Act are January 6, 2020 for non-fixed MTLS calls and January 6, 2021 for fixed MLTS calls.

How to Ensure Compliance with Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act

The following steps may be necessary to ensure your organization complies with this legislation.

  1. Assess your current MLTS: You will need to determine whether your phone system routes 9-1-1 calls to emergency response centers without requiring a prefix. You will also need to verify that notification and caller location information is conveyed correctly under the legislation. This should be tested on multiple phone endpoints on an annual basis.
  2. Install compliant hardware or software: This legislation requires all telephone equipment manufactured, imported or sold in the US after February 2020 to be compliant. If your current system isn’t in compliance and you don’t plan to purchase new hardware, there are several software solutions that will bring your system in line with the regulations. For example, Cisco Emergency Responder’s use of phone calls and Cisco Emergency Responder’s ER user pages satisfy Kari’s Law’s notification requirement.
  3. Ensure proper configuration for E911 technology: This legislation changes the FCC’s rules surrounding Enhanced 9-11 (E911) technology to require that MLTS convey specific individual caller information. Even if you have E911 features installed, you may need to reconfigure.
  4. Plan for remote workers: The legislation applies to any US-based user who can dial emergency services, including those using nomadic softphone applications on desktop or mobile devices. This includes any organizations based in other countries but that have US-based users.

Need help determining whether your organization complies with Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act, or implementing the right solutions to achieve compliance?

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