Implementing Teams Dynamic 911
In Part I of this series we define E911 calling, some history of 911 Emergency calling, and the United States laws that drive the need for organizations to implement 911 Emergency services.
This article describes how to best prepare, and what information is needed to successfully implement Microsoft Teams Dynamic E911. You will also learn about important decisions that are required to be made by your organization before beginning the actual implementation of Microsoft Teams Dynamic E911.
When a Teams client places a call to “911” the Teams client communicates with the Teams Emergency Services components that are configured in the Team client’s o365 Tenant. Through this “communication”, the Teams client gathers the Teams client’s location information to send to the PSAP (Public Safety Access Point). This information is used to dispatch emergency services such as police, fire and medical personnel to the location of the Teams client. Microsoft Teams Dynamic E911 is “Dynamic” because the Teams client periodically determines re-assesses its location. Prior to Microsoft Dynamic E911, Teams clients were assigned a “static” location that would not change. This would not present a problem if Teams clients were always in a fixed position such as an office location that rarely changed. Today’s Teams users and clients are often changing location or even devices during audio and video calls. Teams client users might one day be on the 10th floor of an office building using a “wired” network. The next day he/she may be working from a hotel external WiFi network. This might be followed by working from home using a wired or wireless network that may or may not be utilizing VPN (virtual private network) technology. To ensure that the emergency services responders are sent to the correct location, Microsoft Teams Dynamic E911 automatically checks and validates the current location of a Microsoft Teams client.
How does a Microsoft Teams client determine where it is located?
One of the most important steps when implementing Microsoft Dynamic E911 is the creation of a Team’s Tenant’s Location Information Service database, (known as the “LIS”). The Teams client queries this database periodically to determine the Teams client location to be sent to the PSAP during and emergency call.
The LIS database contains information such as the physical address of an organization’s office, (or multiple addresses when there are more than one location for an organization), names of organization locations, (e.g. Manhatten, San Francisco, etc.), network switch MAC addresses, and network switch port MAC addresses. This database can also be configured to allow locations such as Floor number/levels, rooms as well as the location of wireless access points.
The proper configuration and entering of data to the LIS database is critical to the success of a Microsoft Teams Dynamic E911 deployment. This configuration work can be accomplished through the Teams Administration web interface or through the use of Teams Powershell commands. Using Teams Powershell can significantly reduce the data entry time for creating the LIS database entries.
Prior to configuration and entering of data to the LIS database there are several questions should be addressed by your organization:
- What physical address or addresses for your organization will be added to the LIS database? These addresses are street addresses of your organization’s physical locations, (e.g. campus, or corporate city offices)
- What level of granularity of locations in the LIS database will your organization require? For example: Building names, department names, floor numbers, rooms, network switch addresses, network port addresses, and/or WiFi access points.
- What format(s) will you obtain network device information for loading into the LIS database? Will that data be available in structured CSV file format for bulk importing to the LIS database?
- Will a person to be added to Teams initiated E911 calls, (e.g. your organization’s security desk personnel)? This is important with regards to compliance with the US laws.
In addition to creating the LIS database there are a few other steps needed to complete your E911 configuration:
- Enter your “Trusted IP” addresses. These are public IP addresses that will be registered with Microsoft. This ensures that if a 911 calls is placed that those calls come from a known or “trusted” Teams location.
- Enter and configure your Network Topology. This includes entering information about your network subnets and WiFi Access Points.
- When using Direct Routing or Teams E911, you will need to choose a company that provides the routing and connectivity to the local PSAP, (see below).
- Configure Direct routing and associated Voice Routes and Emergency policies to route 911 calls to the local PSAP, (Public Safety Answering Point). The PSAP, or a regional call center are where 911 operators answer 911 calls to ensure that emergency calls are routed to the proper emergency services, (e.g. police, fire and ambulance). These operators utilize the information that a Teams client extracts from the LIS database and sends to the 911 operators, (i.e. at the PSAP).
Once your Teams E911 configuration is complete you will validate and test the placing of 911 calls from Teams clients. Fortunately this testing does not involve dialing of 911 and having to explain to the PSAP operator that your are only doing a test. Test calls for your 911 configuration can be conducted by dialing 933.
The set up and configuration of Microsoft Teams E911 services for many organizations requires a significant amount of planning and forethought. These services must be deployed correctly since lives of people in your organization may depend on the Teams E911 services working correctly.
In Part III we will describe some of the detailed steps required to implement Teams 911 calling.