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In the fast-paced world of healthcare, keeping IP phone location information up-to-date can be challenging, especially given the unparalleled mobility enabled by VoIP and UC technologies.
But healthcare is also an arena where pinpoint location information is critical in emergency situations, and the ability to quickly locate a 911 caller can save valuable time when seconds count. Fortunately, maintaining accurate, up-to-date location information for even the most mobile of IP phones can be simple if the healthcare organization implements an automatic IP phone tracking solution.
Automatic IP phone tracking is a popular E911 management feature offered by E911 solution providers. It allows organizations to pinpoint the locations of 911 callers based on their position on the corporate voice network using Layer 2 (switch and port-based), Layer 3 (subnet-based), and Wireless LAN (BSSID-based) tracking methods.
To enable automatic IP phone tracking, organizations must first divide their premises into smaller geographic zones called Emergency Response Locations (ERLs). ERLs may be defined to the building, floor, wing, and/or room level, based on the needs of the organization. These zones are then populated in a network map, and associated to the network elements serving the ERL (e.g. switches and ports, subnets, and Wireless LAN BSSIDs). The network map is then loaded into the E911 management appliance for future reference in the event of an emergency. When 911 is dialed, the network element to which the endpoint is connected is used to determine the ERL where the caller is located at that exact moment.
The mechanics of automatic IP phone tracking features vary from vendor to vendor. Thus, it is critical that healthcare organizations evaluating E911 management solutions closely review each vendor’s offering to ensure they get the best, most appropriate solution for their needs. Organizations should be wary of solutions that require a significant investment in additional network components, or rely on regular polling of the IP-PBX/network elements or SNMP traps, which can place an unnecessary burden on the IP-PBX and network.
911 Enable’s Emergency Gateway (EGW) appliance provides organizations with E911 management capabilities that seamlessly integrate with their UC system, without requiring additional investment beyond the appliance itself. It automatically tracks the locations of IP phones whenever they move on the network - with minimal system load - through the use of event-based updates. This method of automatic phone tracking is resource-efficient, reducing unnecessary network traffic and eliminating the need to build excessive network infrastructure simply to support the 911 solution. Ultimately, this allows healthcare organizations to focus valuable resources on what matters most – patient care.
For more information on automatic IP phone tracking, how it works, and the advanced tracking capabilities offered by 911 Enable’s EGW, read the automatic IP phone tracking feature brief available here.