babblevoice allows calls through to the emergency services. This is however reliant on your equipment onsite to be powered, available and have a connection to the Internet.
It is a requirement on using this service to provide up to date valid address/location information. The UK emergency services works on records where a UK address is stored against every phone number. When you make a call to 999 which presents a caller id, then the emergency services will already have the address of where the issue is likely to be - this is to help handle silent calls amongst other problems.
We recognise the difficulty in a completely hosted VOIP system in ensuring this is correct, with road warriors, multiple offices and other challenges. Offcom have produced guidance in this which we follow and also we have implemented features to ensure the best possible system to ensure 999 calls are handled efficiently as they can be - but you agree to follow them.
From this we can check some settings. So, for example, if you have a device in a different location to the location of the caller id you set for the device babblevoice will show you a warning. This must be corrected. Accounts which do not correct this may be closed down. What we cannot do is detect a phone is in London even if you have moved it to Manchester.
Also known as addresses. On the stuff page you can add as many locations as you want. Make sure they are complete and correct.
Phone numbers are purchased and setup on the stuff page. Once purchased if you select a number (or number range) you can edit the number settings. Against each number you can store a location (address) against it.
Once these 2 settings have setup correctly, we will verify the validity of the address - and if we think it looks good we will allow it to be uploaded to the emergency services database.
At that point we maybe informed all went ok, or if further corrections are required. We will feed this information back to you on the main page.
Now the emergency services have the correct address against each phone number. You tell babblevoice where each phone is and what caller ID you want to use. This may show a mismatch between location and caller id. If it does we will inform you of this.
You can use a caller ID which is saved against a different location to the phone. Under advanced settings in the device in question, you can select a caller ID to use when calling the emergency services.
So you received the warning ‘The phone my phone is in a different location to the location of the outbound caller id for emergency services.’.
With the exception of how silent calls are handled (see below for more information), the address we store against a phone number is very important.
This is the flow when someone dials 999: phone -> babble chooses phone number for caller id -> emergency services use phone number to look up address.
For example, if someone dials 999 on the ‘my phone’, the 999 operator may deem immediate assistance maybe required. If the person making the call can no longer communicate (i.e. tell them the address) then help maybe dispatched to the address you have setup.
A phone has a few pieces of information on how to decide what caller id is presented to the called party.
For this reason we provide an advanced setting which allows you to alter the caller id for each phone specifically for when they dial 999.
For a phone, you could decide to set the caller id to ‘01442299280’ for normal use, but for when dialling 999, ‘01442299282’ should be used as caller id - ensuring the emergency services get the correct address.
A note regarding silent calls.
There has been more than 1 tragic case when a 999 call was not handled perfectly (which is going to happen when you consider how many calls are handled each year by the emergency services).
In March 2003 Hannah Foster was abducted; she was quick witted enough to dial 999. Hannah was unable to speak into the phone but hoped the operator would hear enough to raise suspicion. Unfortunately the emergency services use a system called Silent Solutions which deals with silent calls to the 999 service which cut off her call. Sadly this ended with Hannah’s murder.
A 999 operator may make attempts to see if it is a silent plea. For example they may ask the caller to tap the phone.
There are 5.5 million silent calls to the 999 service each year. It is important you ensure there is every effort placed on ensuring a call placed through a phone in your business is handled correctly. You can improve someone’s chances with good housekeeping now.
Since 2004 a silent call will be prompted for the caller to press 5-5. If this is done then the call will be treated as though the caller needs emergency assistance.