What is the Ray Baum's Act?

What you need to know about Ray Baum’s Act

There are new FCC regulations you need to know about.  

As you upgrade communications technology in your workplace, it is important that you review and upgrade your 911 calling capabilities too. New FCC regulations are aimed at ensuring that the phone systems and communications platforms you use continue to properly support critical end-users’ emergency response needs whenever and wherever necessary.

What is RAY BAUM’s Act?

Named in honor of Ray Baum, the entire Act includes many different communications related initiatives. Section 506 of the Act, as it relates to 911 services, is what we want to make you aware of today.

Ray Baum’s Act was signed into law to emphasize the significance of sharing more than basic address information with emergency services personnel during a 911 call.  Additional details such as building, floor, suite or room number are invaluable pieces of information for first responders that can dramatically reduce response time and increase the potential for favorable emergency response.

Who was Ray Baum? 

Raymond Sims Baum was an American lawyer, lobbyist and politician.  He was born and raised in La Grande, Oregon, studied at Brigham Young University and Willamette University College of Law.  

Ray served in the Oregon House of Representatives, was majority leader in the state house for the Republic Party and a Commissioner and Chairman of the Oregon Public Utilities Commission (PUC).  He served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), and as the Chair of NARUC’s Committee on Telecommunications. 

Ray Baum joined U.S. Representative Greg Walden’s staff as Staff Director on the Energy and Commerce Committee in December 2016. In this role in Congress, Ray worked closely with the FCC on telecommunications issues. Sadly, Ray Baum passed away in February of 2018 after a long battle with cancer. In recognition of his important contributions to the telecommunications industry, Representative Greg Walden arranged to have RAY BAUM’S Act named in his honor. 

What is in Section 506?

The language of Section 506 of RAY BAUM’S Act directed the FCC to conclude a proceeding aimed at improving the  “dispatchable location” information provided to public safety at the time of a 911 call. In the FCC’s proceeding that followed, it determined that dispatchable location includes a street address, but should also include more granular information such as building number, floor, suite, room, or other available relevant location information that can best assist first responders in an emergency. 

When does RAY BAUM’S Act go into effect?

The FCC has identified separate categories of devices and given each a deadline.

Fixed Phones: Hardphones that are static in an environment. These phones must meet these requirements January 6th, 2021.

Remote: Off-premise 911 calls such as remote workers or people working from home. These phones must meet requirements by January 6th, 2022.

Non-Fixed: Softphones or Hardphones that move in the environment. These phones must meet these requirements by January 6th, 2022.

What does RAY BAUM’S Act mean for your business?

First, we strongly recommend you speak with legal counsel for guidance. The best legal approach for any given enterprise may vary depending upon the nature of the services in question or the size and complexity of the organization. 

Second, review and update the provisioned emergency location information with us for your employees to include additional data such as building, floor number, suite, conference rooms, etc. to provide more granular location information where applicable. 

Third, remember to adjust for remote or ‘nomadic’ workers.  Many businesses in the valley have transitioned to employees working from home or remote locations as well as in the office, often using softphones such as our SNAPmobile applications.  You will need to adjust how you manage your emergency location information to account for these new scenarios that allow your employees to work in the office and remotely. 

Finally, test to ensure that the correct emergency location information is being conveyed to public safety during a 911 call. Testing can be coordinated with our teams. 

Don’t overlook Kari’s Law.

Both Kari’s Law and Section 506 of RAY BAUM’S Act deal with E911 and multi-line telephone systems. Kari’s Law has two requirements:

  1. Eliminate requiring a prefix or digit (such as 8 or 9) be pressed before making a 911 call.
  2. Designated personnel such as a security team or front desk attendants must be notified when a 911 call has been placed.

Kari’s Law (which went into effect on February 16, 2020) focuses on ensuring that end-users have the ability to make calls to 911 in enterprise environments while notifying the enterprise of the emergency. Section 506 of RAY BAUM’S Act is concerned with the quality of the information that is sent to public safety operators when the call is made. Together, they’re all about providing better, faster, more reliable access to emergency services when dialing 911.

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