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Unified Communication Manager Evolution Blog Series

The evolution blog series focuses on the latest developments of Unified Communications Manager, what’s new in the latest versions, the best functions and features that clearly demonstrate the value of upgrading older versions, whether that’s on-premise, in the cloud with Cisco Unified Communications Manager Cloud, or a Cisco Hosted Collaboration solution. The world is changing and evolving… These blogs explore why, and so must we.


New Standards for Workplace Safety

Yesterday marked the first full year since Kari’s Law was signed into federal law and the first day that the law was in effect. Named for Kari Hunt Dunn, an East Texas mother who tragically died when her daughter was unable to reach emergency services, Kari’s Law represents one of the most comprehensive moves by the U.S. federal government to create new standards for employee safety to date.  

The facts of the case are very well known. The tragedy occurred because they were not at home, and Kari’s 9-year-old daughter did not know that a prefix of “9” was needed to reach the outside line to enable emergency services calling  

Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act were drafted by lawmakers to solve direct 911 dialing challenges and other associated deficiencies for enterprises and consumers alike.  

Why Improved Communications and Collaboration is Key to Employee Safety 

Every year,  nearly 2 million  U.S. workers will become victims of workplace violence, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports many more cases go unaccounted for. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), more than 40% of businesses never reopen after a disaster, and for those that do, only 29% were still operating after two years.  And what happens to downed businesses whose full IT infrastructure was down for nine days or more? Bankruptcy within a year.  

These statistics do not mean that employers are failing to prioritize workplace safety. It means their efforts are focused on areas that are required by regulation: testing fire alarms, running fire drills, and now, in some states, preparing for active shooter incidents. 

The communications system is at the very center of all emergencies. That’s why passing Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s act were such monumental steps forward, with regard to public safety. Organizations are increasingly being held liable for not making their premises and operations safe for their employees. 

Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act help employees by taking the guesswork out of dialing emergency services, and Cisco UCM helps organizations meet their duty to care for all employees in the instance of an emergency. 

How Cisco UCM Customers Become Compliant with Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act 

Many of our Cisco UCM customers have already said “Yes” to enhanced employee safety through their purchase of UCM and other critical safety applications.  

For those of you who are just getting started, here are the three most common questions these UCM customers asked as they began assessing their emergency communications posture in light of the new laws. 

Q: Do I need to upgrade UCM to be compliant? 

A: No! Existing UCM deployments are configurable for Kari’s Law. 

A PBX must be able to convey a device’s physical location to achieve Ray Baum’s Act compliance, and with UCM, the installer must use an application to do so. This functionality can be easily enabled in UCM through integration with Cisco Emergency Responder (CER). CER tracks phones and users in Cisco UCM and provides E911 treatment and local onsite notification for these devices/users via a phone call or web-portal, email, or text notification

While we do suggest that enterprise customers on older systems start thinking about either upgrading or migrating to the cloud, the good news is that if you are running an older version of UCM, we will not force you to upgrade to be compliant with Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act. Since direct dialing to 911 is available in any version of Cisco UCM, Cisco recommends that all customers configure their existing deployments to support a direct 911 dialing pattern, which is accomplished easily in any version of UCM.  

Concerning notification, Kari’s Law states that a customer must enable notifications if the functionality exists on the system “without an improvement to the hardware or software of the system.” Cisco UCM does not have 911 call notification native to the system, so an existing deployment is not required to meet this part of the law.  

 

Q: How should I handle e911 dispatching? 

A: UCM customers will need to use an application to meet the notification aspect of Kari’s Law.

A PBX must be able to convey a device’s physical location to achieve Ray Baum’s Act compliance, and with UCM, the installer must use an application to do so. This functionality can be easily enabled in UCM through integration with Cisco Emergency Responder (CER). CER tracks phones and users in Cisco UCM and provides E911 treatment and local onsite notification for these devices/users via a phone call or web-portal, email, or text notification 

CER offers the best solution for UCM 911 dispatching. It assures that UCM will send emergency calls to the appropriate PSAP for the caller’s location and that the PSAP can identify the caller’s location and return the call if necessary. 

Kari’s Law also requires that there be a local onsite notification to customer security personnel when an emergency call is in progress. CER also helps surpass traditional PBX capabilities by providing this notification with the caller’s location to public safety officials. 

Q: What other applications should I be considering as I start preparing for employee safety improvements? 

A: We strongly suggest that Cisco UCM customers evaluate other emergency safety add-ons through RedSky, Intrado, and Singlewire. 

    • Emergency Calling Support for Remote Workers: For enterprises seeking to provide E911 service to their remote workers, mobile workers, or home-office users, we suggest RedSky E911 Anywhere® or Intrado Emergency Routing Service. 
    • Cloud-Based E911 Termination: For enterprises looking to leverage a cloud-based routing solution that allows administrators to manage all enterprise locations easily, we suggest RedSky E911 Anywhere or Intrado Emergency Routing Service. 
    • Emergency Broadcasting: For enterprises wanting to transform network devices into a mission-critical emergency communications system, we suggest using Singlewire’s InformaCast Fusion Solution. The solution easily integrates with Cisco phones, overhead speakers, strobes, and more to increase the speed, reach and success rate of emergency alerts. 
    • Additional Employee Safety Features:  We have other options for enterprises needing a solution for silent monitoring, barge in, and recording emergency calls. 
    • Compatibility:  These vendor services integrate with Cisco UCM as well as third-party PBXs.  If an enterprise happens to be using the services with call servers from Microsoft, Unify, or Avaya and is migrating to Cisco, the transition should be smooth. 

It’s Time to Assess Your Employee Safety Posture with a Comprehensive Audit of Your Communications System 

The health and well-being of Cisco UCM and its underlying network infrastructure is critical for enterprise IT departments to meet the organization’s legal obligations and to meet day-to-day service-level commitments. Cisco account managers are ready and waiting to help Cisco Partners and customers audit their communications systems.  

Give your Cisco account manager a call today to review your organizations’ technological stance. Be sure to discuss this topic with your internal legal team as well, so you can determine how best to meet your obligations. 

To learn more about Cisco UCM and Kari’s Law Compliance, read our FAQ 

See how the latest Cisco IP phones reduce regulatory compliance risks and provide the latest technology with the option to be on-premises or cloud. Watch the video:


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Connect with other blogs in the Unified Communication Manager Evolution Blog Series 

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Three Take-Aways from First-Ever Cisco Partner U.S. Cloud Calling Event

Cisco Unified Communications Manager Evolution – Is Your Security up to the Job?

A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013