Two pieces of legislation, the Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services (RAY BAUM’S) Act of 2018 (H.R.4986) and Kari’s Law, recently passed. Once they take effect, they may change how you handle calls in your hotel.
What is RAY BAUM’S Act?
RAY BAUM’S Act is named for the late Ray Baum, the former vice-president of government affairs at the National Association of Broadcasters. It’s also an acronym for Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services Act of 2018. It’s a mouthful, but it’s worth paying attention to.
RAY BAUM’S Act also addresses emergency calls. According to the law, 911 calls will need to automatically pass along “dispatchable location” — including street address, floor level, and room number of the caller — to first responders so they can find the caller as quickly as possible.
What is Kari’s Law?
Kari’s Law is named after Kari Hunt, who was killed in a hotel room in 2013. Her daughter, 9-year-old Brianna, tried to call 911 four times, but was unaware that the hotel’s phone system required that users dial a prefix (often 9) to reach an outside line — even in emergencies.
Kari’s Law will change that. The law requires that all MLTS (Multi-Line Telephone Systems) allow their users to dial 911 directly from any line without being routed through any internal processes or needing to dial a prefix.
There’s also an “onsite notification” requirement in the law. Say someone in an office or hotel room calls 911. Not only will their call be connected to emergency services, but the front desk or reception desk in the building will also be notified that a guest or employee might be in distress. Employees of the building will almost always be faster to respond than emergency services, and they can provide vital assistance in the interim.
It also requires that no entity can install, operate, or manage any MLTS unless that system is equipped to dial 911 directly. There is a brief margin of time for businesses to comply — the law takes effect on February 16, 2020 — but after that day, it will apply to anyone installing, managing, selling, or leasing such a system.
What These Laws Mean for Your Hotel
By September 23, 2019, all MLTS manufacturers and providers will be required to:
- Enable users to call emergency services from any internal telephone without dialing an additional digit, code, prefix, or trunk-access code. This portion of the act is Kari’s Law.
- Notify on-site personnel — a security desk, employee on-call, or third-party security service — of the call and the location where it originated.
- Pass along the dispatchable location of the call to emergency services regardless of the platform used to place the call.
All hotels must implement a new compliant system, or upgrade their current systems. But don’t worry — if you have a VoIP system (Voice over Internet Protocol), this upgrade will be easy.
All of your phone lines are digital, which means they can be routed however you choose. Notifications are also simple to set up, so your front desk staff — or mobile managers, administrative staff, or anyone else you choose — can be notified that a 911 call has been placed.
Talk to Phonesuite for Any Compliance Needs
These laws will catapult lots of businesses that use MLTS — nursing homes, hotels, and any business with a centralized phone system — into the 21st century. If your hotel is using an analog phone system, compliance with this law will be difficult, if not impossible.
The obvious solution is to switch to a VoIP system. With a digital phone system, run through a web browser and your existing high-speed internet connection, you can set any calls to 9-1-1 to bypass your internal phone tree and send a notification to one or several numbers of your choice, including the cell phone number of a manager on duty. You can attach specific location information to each phone line as well, including the building, floor, and room from which the call came.
Best of all, VoIP is upgradeable and future-proof. Since the whole system is digital, you can add or remove phone lines — and change the way that phone calls are handled — whenever and however you want. Contact Phonesuite today for a consultation and estimate!