Automating the Setup of Emergency Calling from the Cloud

Setting up Emergency Calling from the cloud is easier than ever with Voxbone’s new Emergency Calling API, now in sandbox mode.

If you’re moving to cloud communications from the world of Plain Old Telephony Services, voice access to local emergency services is something you probably take for granted.

Dial the local emergency telephone number (911, 999, 112, etc) from a fixed landline and your call will be automatically routed to the relevant Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). Simple.

What you might not realize is the work that’s gone on behind the scenes to make this happen before you ever picked up the phone.

When you took out your contract with that legacy carrier, they registered your phone number and physical address in the relevant database, ensuring your 911 call would be connected to the local phone number assigned to your nearest PSAP. It was easy for them to do this because they were deploying physical cabling directly to the premises where the landline was registered.

Why Do We Need You To Register Your Address?

The move to cloud communications unlocks many benefits, ridding your business of a reliance on physical infrastructure and enabling virtualized telephony that can scale anywhere in the world instantly.

But this also adds a further level of complexity. Depending on the regulatory restrictions of a given market, you could potentially use a local phone number from an address in a different city, state, country, continent or hemisphere.

While some enhanced emergency services such as E911 are capable of receiving location information in real-time directly within the SIP message, most PSAPs are still not capable of processing this information. This is why you usually need to provide a validated end-user address for a virtual phone number before you can dial emergency phone numbers. Otherwise, your provider would have no idea which PSAP needs to handle your call.

It’s also why Voxbone made the decision to restrict our entire suite of outbound voice services on phone numbers for our direct enterprise customers until they have a validated address assigned. Because as a responsible, compliant provider, we believe it’s wrong to let businesses to make calls to other national or international phone numbers on a line that isn’t capable of reaching your local emergency service.

The bottom line is that users should be confident any phone line they dial out from is capable of making a successful emergency call in a life-or-death situation.

Pain-Free Cloud Communications

The upshot of this is that there is a bit more admin to get a complete outbound service up and running. It may seem like a minor annoyance. After all, you never had to worry about this process with your ISDN service. But we’ve taken steps to minimize the pain of connecting your Voxbone phone numbers to the relevant emergency services.

Firstly, we maintain our own routing tables, meaning that there’s no reliance on a third-party service to make that connection between your physical location and the relevant PSAP. Just give us your address and we take ownership of ensuring a fully redundant call path to the most appropriate emergency call handling center.

But the registration process still has the potential to be laborious and long-winded if you’re dealing with addresses for tens, hundreds or thousands of phone numbers. This task becomes more complex by an order of magnitude when you’re trying to set up access to emergency services across 10, 20, 30 countries. That’s where our new Emergency Calling API comes in.

Simplification Through Automation

We built our Emergency Services Activation API to make it even easier for you to register addresses for your Voxbone phone numbers in 35+ countries around the world. Previously, there was no easy way to automate a process that can vary from country to country and between regulators.

With our new API, which is now available for beta signup, you can:

  • Discover and double check the info you’ll need to share for a given country, use case and service type
  • Activate Emergency Calling and Directory Services for phone numbers on the Voxbone network
  • Check the service status for both Emergency and Directory Services on any Voxbone phone number

Advanced Features

Let’s look at some of the specific ways that our new Emergency Calling API makes your data requirements as transparent as possible, while also minimizing the need for manual intervention.

Surfacing the Latest Regulatory Requirements

The API is a technical front end designed to translate into code 15 years of hard work by our legal team and the extensive regulatory relationships we have developed during this period. It’s how we make sure you have the latest information on local requirements in every market we operate – not just the changes in legislation, but also what they mean for your communications.

We have distilled our compliance playbook down to the point that a web form generated by a single line of code can display up-to-the-minute requirements for any country, service or phone number type.

Address Normalization and Verification

Extensive development time and QA testing has gone into making sure that data is collected through a standardized, unified interface that can then be translated by the back end into a localized format that can be easily validated. Completing this process manually usually requires an advanced understanding of the local language and regulatory landscape and manually uploading CSV files. With our Emergency Calling API, the processes for data submission and verification of addresses are streamlined and optimized.

Learn more about our Emergency Calling API