In 2013, Kari Hunt was tragically murdered in her hotel room by her estranged husband. Her nine-year-old daughter witnessed the attack, and made several attempts to call 9-1-1 on the hotel phone for help. Unfortunately, her daughter didn’t know she had to dial a prefix 9, then dial 9-1-1, in order to connect the call. Kari’s Law was passed to help rectify this issue.
Had her daughter been able to reach emergency services, Kari might still be with us today. Kari’s Law ensures that anyone will be able to dial 9-1-1 on any phone and get help, without any extra steps or numbers. It goes into effect today, February 17th, 2020.
Here’s everything you need to know about this new law, and how it will affect emergency services in 2020:
Kari’s law is an amendment to the FCC’s Communications Act that enables direct dialing of 9-1-1. It mandates that any multi-line telephone system (MLTS) allows users to dial 9-1-1 without having to dial a prefix, like 9 or 0. In other words, to dial 9-1-1, there’s no extra 9 needed.
It also dictates that a notification is sent (e.g. floor and room number within a building) to security officials or building administrators for an MLTS, to rapidly dispatch assistance or first-aid, either through a text, an email, or a phone call.
Any large scale enterprise that utilizes a MLTS, like a public school, office building, hotel, or college campus. Telecom and VoIP companies who provide MLTS utilities to these customers also have to comply with Kari’s Law.
The Ray Baum Act, among other things, mandates that a dispatchable location is sent whenever possible through an MLTS phone. However, when a dispatchable location can’t be sent automatically, it can be relayed manually either through an end user (like a front desk security guard) or through other means.
In addition to guaranteeing that anyone can direct dial 9-1-1 for help, Kari’s Law, as well as the Ray Baum Act, aim to ensure that anyone calling 9-1-1 will be able to be found, no matter where they’re calling from.
As we know, VoIP and mobile phones don’t have a local address attached when they call 9-1-1, like a landline phone would, so it makes identifying the location of a call dependent on verbally relayed information. During an emergency, a caller might not know where they are, or be able to provide enough specific context to be easily found by first responders.
Kari’s Law was passed alongside the Ray Baum Act to ensure that a dispatchable location is sent along to an Emergency Communications Center (ECC) when 9-1-1 is dialed through an MLTS, so that first responders will be better able to find callers in need.
By ensuring that MLTS phones no longer have to enter a prefix to dial 9-1-1, Kari’s Law will expedite emergency calls and deliver help faster than ever to the occupants of enterprise-level buildings.
Whether they’re school kids, travelers, office employees, or hotel workers, Kari’s Law will not only avert any confusion they might experience in an emergency, it will help send accurate location data along to first responders.
Having access to precise location data revolutionizes our approach to public safety. First responders will save time searching for callers, and can instead focus their efforts on getting to the scene as fast as possible. Considering how many lives are lost each year because first responders couldn’t find who they were trying to help, having access to this data will undoubtedly cut that number down.
Together with thousands of public safety agencies, RapidSOS has worked to solve the location challenge by partnering with tech companies like Apple, Google, and Uber to send device location data to 9-1-1 through a secure NG911 standards-compliant Clearinghouse.
Companies like Avaya and 911 Secure are leading the way, offering E911 services that help forward device location data to ECCs nationwide. Avaya in particular is a champion of Kari’s Law adherence, working with telecom companies to help modernize the public safety industry.
Through efforts like Kari’s Law, more and more data providers will send relevant situational information to first responders, helping create an environment of data-driven emergency response.