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Making a 911 Test Call

Introduction 

There is one aspect of Microsoft Teams Dynamic 911 testing that is usually overlooked, making a successful 911 call. What constitutes a successful call? 

  • The call reached the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) 
  • The call reached the correct PSAP 
  • The PSAP agent sees the caller’s correct phone number 
  • The PSAP agent receives the caller’s correct location 

Verifying the Emergency Location in Teams 

Once Microsoft Teams Dynamic 911 has been setup, including the Work from Home (WFH) feature, we can verify the user’s current location in the Teams client. The location that Teams has derived for the user’s current location can be seen by clicking on Settings in the Teams client then on “Calls”: 

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The location can also be found on the “Calls” tab in the Teams client: 

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Checking this information will provide some of the answers needed to verify whether Teams Dynamic 911 and WFH are working correctly: 

  1. Is the Teams client able to determine a user’s current location? 
  2. Is the correct location provided for a corporate network connected Teams client? Are the Emergency Address and specific location correct based on the user’s current subnet, connected wireless access point, connected switch or switch port? 
  3. Does a WFH user see the address that they have validated for their current location? 

The client’s technical teams should investigate and resolve incorrect or unexpected results. 

Making test calls using the “933” test numbers 

For Calling Plan and Operator Connect users, the Emergency Response Service Provider (ERSP) function is included and built into the Teams service. Direct Routing customers will have engaged with a 3rd Party ERSP or will acquire the ERSP functionality through their SIP Trunk vendor.  

Teams Calling Plan and Operator Connect users can leverage the built in “933” test number as part of their Emergency Services Calling testing. Most of the ERSPs and SIP Trunks support dialing “933”, or some other test number, in their systems. 

Calls to “933” test numbers are used to verify what should happen when a user makes a real emergency call 911. They do not conclusively indicate what will happened when a Teams user calls 911.  

When a Calling Plan or Operator Connect user dials 933 from a Teams client that supports Dynamic 911, they will be connected to a bot hosted in the Teams Service. The caller will hear a message describing how an actual Emergency Call would be handled by the service: 

  • Your subscriber identifier. This is your phone number 
  • The bot will tell you whether your Teams client has determined what your current address is including a latitude and longitude 
  • The bot will tell you whether your call will be routed to the PSAP or to the Emergency Call Center (EMC). If the call were routed to the EMC, you would be connected to an agent through the Teams service who would verbally verify your current location before forwarding your call to the appropriate PSAP. In our previous blog article, Work from Home on Teams & Comply with RAY BAUM, we discuss how the decision is made to route emergency calls to the PSAP or the EMC 
  • The bot also provides you the option of recording a test message and having it played back 

The experience when a Teams Direct Routing user calls “933” varies based on which ERSP handles the call. Generally, similar information should be provided by these systems. 

Calling the “933” test number will provide the following Dynamic 911 testing results: 

1) For Calling Plan and Operator Connect users signed in from a Corporate Network: 
a. Does the call make it to the Teams Service bot? 
b. Is the user in “live” mode? 
c. Is the user’s phone number read back correctly? 
d. Is the user’s current address read back correctly? The bot does not read back the specific location 
e. Will the call be routed to the PSAP? It should be for network connected users 

2) For Calling Plan and Operator Connect Work from home users: 
a. Does the call make it to the Teams Service bot? 
b. Is the user in “live” mode? 
c. Is the user’s phone number read back correctly? 
d. Is the user’s current address read back correctly? The bot does not read back the specific location 
e. Based on the information in the previously mentioned Work from Home article, if the user should be routed to the PSAP, does the bot say that the location coverage will be the Public Safety Answering Point? If they should be routed to the EMC is the location coverage “Emergency Call Center”? 

3) For Direct Routing users signed in from a Corporate Network: 
a. Does the ERSP or SIP Trunk provider answer the call to the test number? 
b. These providers may or may not provide an indicator like “live” mode. Check with your vendor. Ask them what the user experience should be when they call the test number 
c. The information the vendors provide through their test numbers varies. Verify that the information they do provide is correct.  
d. The test number should indicate that these calls will be routed to the PSAP if they are valid street addresses. In most cases, they should be 

4)For Direct Routing Work from Home users: 
a. Does the ERSP or SIP Trunk provider answer the call to the test number? 
b. These providers may or may not provide an indicator like “live” mode. Check with your vendor. Ask them what the user experience should be when they call the test number 
c. The information the vendors provide through their test numbers varies. Verify that the information they do provide is correct 
d. If the Teams caller shows “Location Not Detected” in their Teams client, a blank address will be sent to the ERSP or the SIP Trunk Vendor. These calls should be routed to the vendor’s Emergency Call Resource Center (ECRC) and a live agent. The vendors will look at all other calls with addresses and determine the appropriate PSAP. If a PSAP cannot be determined, the call should be routed to the vendor’s ECRC. The test bot may or may not provide this information. Verify whatever is provided 

Making 911 Test Calls 

How do you know that when one of your users makes a real 911 call that it will work without testing it? The information above can only be used to verify the calling number and address that will be sent by Teams when a user makes a 911 call. It can also indicate if a call will be routed to a Public Safety Answering Point, EMC\ECRC. It cannot guarantee: 

  • That a call to 911 will complete 
  • That the call will go to a PSAP when it should 
  • That the call will go to the correct PSAP based on the address 
  • That the PSAP agent will see the caller’s correct phone number and address 
  • That the call will go to the EMC\ECRC when it should 
  • That the EMC\ECRC agent will route the call to the correct PSAP based on the address verified by the caller 
  • That the PSAP agent will see the caller’s correct phone number and address that they verified with the EMC\ECRC agent 

The only way to verify this it to make 911 test calls. The 911 system does not like to be bogged down with test calls. 911 calls should only be used for real emergencies. However, for the health and safety of their employees and to avert potential litigation, Companies should periodically place 911 test calls. 

Recommendations 

Schedule the Test Call with the Local PSAP 

Many jurisdictions require the scheduling of 911 test calls to not overburden the dispatchers. Unscheduled calls can sometimes result in a fine.  

According to the 911.gov website, you should contact the local PSAP before making a test call. You will need to determine the appropriate PSAP for the location information that you expect to be used during the call. PSAPs are usually run by local Counties or City Governments. You will need to find the non-emergency number for the PSAP to schedule the test call. 

For example, under Settings->Calls in the Teams client you see this information for the test user’s Emergency location: 

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1) Determine in what County Albany, NY is in. Albany, NY is in Albany County 
2) Search on the Internet for “Albany County, NY Emergency Services” 
3) Locate the “Non-Emergency” phone number: 

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4) Dial the number and ask to schedule a 911 test call. If the person you are speaking to can’t schedule the call, they should be able to refer you to the correct party 

The 911.gov site optionally suggests contacting the State directly to get the state’s procedures for making test calls as well as a contact directory for the PSAPs in the state. Through the “State 911 Contacts” page on the National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA) you can use the form to get the contact information for your State’s 911 administrator: 

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Several States including OregonPennsylvania and Tennessee have published their PSAP directories to the Internet. You can also do an Internet search to see if your state’s directory is available. 

Recording the Test Call 

Recording your test call serves a few purposes: 

  • You will have a record of the conversation including the PSAP agent’s readback of the calling number and the provided address. Don’t waste the agent’s time by trying to write down this information while on the call. 
  • The County or City may fine you for making the test call. The recording may help if you end up contesting the fine with the jurisdiction. 

One of the simplest ways to record the call is to use a speakerphone and a voice recorder. If you don’t have a voice recorder, most cellular phones have a voice recorder application. 

General 

  • Do not waste the PSAP’s agent’s time!  
  • Don’t chitchat 
  • Good manners (please and thank you) waste time 
  • Don’t even say “Hi, how are you today” 
  • Do not hang up when making the call! 
  • Find a quiet place to make the call from. Close the office door! Focus on the call 
  • Avoid making these calls during the 911 system’s busy hours: 
  • 6:00 – 9:00 AM 
  • Lunch Time 
  • 4:00 – 7:00 PM 
  • Tuesdays through Thursdays are usually the best time 
  • You should try to make at least two (2) test calls, one that should go to the PSAP and one that should go to the EMC or ECRC 

Preparation 

  • Schedule the test call(s) with the appropriate PSAP 
  • Gather: 
  • The Calling Number 
  • The location that the Teams client will send to the Teams Service or Direct Routing Session Border Controller (SBC) 
  • Determine whether the call should be routed directly to the PSAP or to the EMC\ECRC 
  • The name of the County where the expected location is located 
  • For Direct Routing users: 
  • Determine the Teams Emergency Call Routing Policy applied to the user making the test call. Determine from the policy which SBC the call should go through 
  • Prepare to capture the call on the SBC’s logging system 
  • Create a table to document the test calls and their results 
  • Get ready to record the call. You want to spend as little time as possible on the call with the PSAP agent  
  • Prepare your “script”  

Here is the “script” I’ve used for several years. It is short and gets to the point: 

“This is not an emergency call. <<pause>>  

I am a telephony engineer, and I am testing our ability to make 911 calls. Can you please read back my calling number and the address that you see for this call?” 

  • Find a quiet place to make the call from. Close the office door! Focus on the call 

Performing the Test 

  • If you use Direct Routing, start the SBC logging 
  • Start your call recording 
  • Dial 911 
  • Use your script during the call 
  • Once completed, stop the recording and the logging 
  • Document the results 

Results Analysis 

Document and retain the results of the test calls. You may need this information later! 

For the test call, verify that: 

  • The call reached the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) 
  • The call reached the correct PSAP 
  • The PSAP agent read back the caller’s correct phone number 
  • The PSAP agent read back the caller’s correct location 

If any of these criteria failed for a Calling Plan or Operator Connect user, open a ticket with Microsoft support. 

For Direct Routing users: 

1) If the call did not complete: 
  • Check the log on the SBC for the call 
  • If the call does not appear in the SBC log, in Microsoft Teams check: 
  • The applicable Teams Emergency Call Routing Policy 
  • The PSTN usage defined in the policy 
  • The route(s) assigned to the PSTN usage 
  • If Teams shows any problems or errors with the SBC 
  • If the call does appear, verify that it was correctly routed to the ERSP or SIP Trunk vendor 
  • If it was routed correctly, open a support ticket with the ERSP or SIP Trunk vendor 

2) If the call did not reach the correct PSAP 
a. Find the call in the SBC log 
b. Check the location information in the Session Description Protocol (SDP) section of the SIP INVITE for the call. Verify that it matches what Teams said it would send to the SBC  
c. If it matches, open a support ticket with the ERSP or SIP Trunk vendor 
d. If it doesn’t match, open a Microsoft support ticket

3) If the PSAP agent does not read back the correct number of the caller 
a. Find the call in the SBC log 
b. Check the value in the “From” field in the header section of the SIP INVITE for the call coming from Teams. Also verify the value in the SIP INVITE going to the ERSP or SIP Trunk Vendor 
c. If the value is wrong in the INVITE coming from Teams, open a support ticket with Microsoft Support. This issue would have likely surfaced when making a “933” test call 
d. If the value is wrong in the INVITE going to the ERSP or SIP Trunk vendor and the value in the Teams INVITE is correct, the problem is on the SBC itself 
e. If the value in both INVITEs is correct, open a ticket with the ERSP or SIP Trunk vendor 

4) If the PSAP agent does not read back the correct address information for a call that went directly to the PSAP 
a. Find the call in the SBC log 
b. Check the location information in the SIP INVITE for the call. Verify that it matches what Teams says it would send to the SBC  
c. If it matches, open a support ticket with the ERSP or SIP Trunk vendor

5) If the PSAP agent does not read back the correct address information for a call that went to the ECRC before going to the PSAP 
a. Review the call recording and verify that the ECRC agent read back the address provided by the caller correctly 
b. If the read back is correct, open a support ticket with the ERSP or SIP Trunk vendor

Summary 

  • The installation of Teams Dynamic 911 and the Work from Home feature cannot be fully validated without making actual 911 test calls. 
  • The “933” or other emergency test numbers are no guarantee that when a real Teams Dynamic 911 call is made it will: 
  • Reach a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) 
  • Be routed to the correct PSAP based on the caller’s location 
  • Be delivered to the PSAP with the caller’s correct phone number 
  • Be sent to the PSAP with the caller’s correct location 
  • Any of these issues will result in delays in getting the first responders to a 911 caller. The ramifications of this could be severe for the caller and the Company. 
  • All things equal, failed 911 test calls are more likely for Direct Routing users than Calling Plan or Operator Connect users. Direct Routing has a few more moving parts when handling Dynamic 911 calls. Once the call is routed from Microsoft Teams to the SBC, the success of the call is dependent on the correct configuration of the SBC and the deployment and integration of the ERSP or the SIP Trunk vendor. Even if the SBC provides the correct calling number and user location, there could still be issues with the ERSP or SIP Trunk vendor routing the call to the correct PSAP. 
  • Most PSAPs allow 911 test calls but require that they be scheduled ahead of time. Contact the appropriate PSAP on their non-emergency number to find out how to schedule these calls. 
  • Keep the calls brief, to the point and clear that they are not actual emergency calls. 
  • Record the test calls. 
  • Make test calls that should go directly to the PSAP and calls that should first be routed to the EMC\ECRC. Make sure that calls that go through the EMC\ECRC are routed to the appropriate PSAP. 
  • Enabling Technologies is available and ready to answer any Microsoft Teams and Teams Dynamic 911 questions that you might have. Please contact us at contact@enablingtechcorp.com 

We hope this information was valuable to you. If you need a deeper dive, here’s John’s Dynamic 911 whitepaper in full for your viewing to answer any other questions of concerns you may have. 

Teams Dynamic 911 and Dynamic 911 for Work from Home

 

 

Work with our team of Cloud Computing Consultants who have done this so many times they know all of the “minefields” to prevent missteps.

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