What about work-at-homers? Should they be able to use their company IP phones to dial E911? Part 4 of 4.

I say, sure. Citizenship for remote employees is a big requirement in today's location insensitive enterprise. This is a problem similar to what residential subscribers of Vonage or AT&T's Advantage IP Telephony service are having to deal with. However, instead of offering legalese to avoid the obvious need for good planning and effective service design, we're going to solve the issue head on.
Enterprise-wide IP Telephony services free employees from the geographic constraints of their digital PBXs. I have, for example, a cubicle in Marlborough MA and a cube in Rolling Meadows IL. With my IP phone in each office, I log in as myself and am able to receive calls from anyone who dials my main extension (508)-323-1187, regardless of whether I am in Massachusetts or in Illinois.

We have discussed the issue of E911 services in an enterprise setting in three previous entries. This one, talks to the challenge of incorporating remote users into the same public safety framework.

There are several options, but my favorite ones are:

  • at configuration, the user could be asked to validate their physical address via the user administration page. Of course, periodically, it would be useful to confirm physical address details. This is the address that an E911 call would present to the receptionist or the public safety agency. In fact, the confirmation interval should be chosen by the user [daily, monthly, annually].
  • At some authentication interval, including each day, or each log in, the user could be asked to confirm their physical address.

Clearly, the enterprise going to the extent of providing E911 compliance within their main facilities, supporting WiFi users and even remote users, is a very conscientious enterprise providing a safe environment for employees.

E911 can be easily overcome with clever network engineering, effective multi-layer (L1, L2, L3) interworking and even sophisticated analytical services (triangulation in a WiFi setting is non-trivial) to satisfy the intent and the effectiveness of public safety objectives without compromising the rate of adoption of new technologies.