Microsoft Teams - Emergency calling Questions.

Frequent Contributor

Hi Experts, 

One of our customer raised the below query:

 

They have an in-house emergency response team. They want to setup a Phone System call flow so that whenever this emergency response teams get's a high priority phone call the they should be able to see on their mobile phone display and Teams that this involves an emergency call. How can we set this up?

 

Any pointers would be of help.

 

Many thanks in advance.

 

 

10 Replies

Unfortunately this is a big miss on Microsoft's part:

There is no Teams-native solution available to alert someone on the Teams desktop or Teams mobile application of an ongoing emergency call.  Additionally, your available options highly depends upon what Voice Architecture you are utilizing with Teams - Calling Plans vs. Direct Routing.

 

If you are utilizing Direct Routing and the emergency call egresses through your on-premises SBC(s) you could implement SYSLOG and then configure alerts based off SYSLOG monitors that match SIP messaging for the dialed digits for your emergency team, but you still cannot receive those alerts in the Teams applications.  You would have to receive the alerts via e-mail through whatever e-mail solution you utilize.

 

If you are using Calling Plans only, your emergency calls go directly through the Microsoft infrastructure and are effectively limited from providing alerts altogether.

 

Note:  As an aside, these same limitations apply for Skype for Business Online and have preceded Teams existence for 5+ years.

Thank you very much, Trevor!! Let me pass on this outputs to customer. Thanks again!!

I would create a call queue for the emergency team, configured with receptionist call distribution. When anyone calls all the team will be rung and will see that it's a call to the emergency team rather than just a phone call to them.

 

There's also an upcoming feature from the work that Microsoft are doing in the heathcare sector to have special high priority messages to doctors e.g. consult required in ER. See https://twitter.com/microsoftteams/status/1044304832222437377?lang=en

That only applies if people are actually calling the emergency team.  If you just want the emergency team to get an alert when someone dials the regular emergency number, this won't work.

@Trevor Miller agreed, but that wasn't the question ...

 


@SB V wrote:

They have an in-house emergency response team. They want to setup a Phone System call flow so that whenever this emergency response teams get's a high priority phone call the they should be able to see on their mobile phone display and Teams that this involves an emergency call.

In terms of calls to Emergency Services 911, 112, 999 etc. then Teams allows companies to meet legal requirements in their countries, and let's face it, in a real emergency I bet people will use their cell phones most of the time. 

@Steven Collier Yes, agreed that I may have misread the initial post.  If the desire is to call the emergency team direct, then having a Call Queue would allow users to "see an incoming emergency call" by way of the call toast.  However, Call Queues can only be assigned Service Numbers at present - so the number must live in the cloud.  If the existing emergency workflow lives in an on-premises Cisco/Avaya/etc system and has the number assigned there, it's not as "simple" as adding a new Call Queue when there needs to be interop (for potentially an extended period of time) between the two systems.  The real solution is likely far messier given the current state of things.

 

Very rarely do I advise customers to fall back to using a cell phone for emergencies.  In general, cell phones could lead to an even worse disaster since they could be triangulated to a very large geographic area (anywhere from 50-300 meters).  Worse yet, triangulation is not foolproof, especially when you are in a large city and are in a building with multiple floors, so the assumption that a cell phone will get you to the right spot is far from reality.  If you can't talk to the dispatcher, you really should not rely on cell phone triangulation.

 

Perhaps from the most lenient legal standards, yes, it "meets requirements", but it is a far cry from the accurate, dynamic capabilities that were available in Skype for Business Server on-premises.  That solution is what is really required and meets the requirements for several states in the US that mandate dynamic location recognition.

Assigning direct routing numbers to Call Queues is in the roadmap, I wouldn't expect it to be too far away now.

 

I guess this is perhaps where US and UK attitudes to phones differ, in most conversations I've had over the past couple of years there's been very little suggestion to deploy handsets to users desks, we also see a great deal more 'flexible working' where people may be in an office (somewhere) or at home, or in the car etc. Using a softphone for emergency calling is not really a thought that holds any credence, and for physical common area phones we can define the location provided which is adequate.

 

Cell phone triangulation is only one option, both iOS and Android send additional location data via  Enhanced Emergency Location Services, and phones ability to recognise their location (from a combination of GPS and WiFi) is relatively accurate, in the majority of cases (particularly your regular workspace) it's going to be accurate to the building.

GPS location positioning can often be inaccurate in larger cities and especially if there are clusters of hi-rise buildings, such as in New York or Chicago or Hong Kong.  The close proximity of buildings often doesn't result in accurate GPS location for small devices like cell phones and especially so if you are located in the center of a building.  Sometimes it places you accurately, but in my experience the more common scenario is non-accurate placement, often in an adjacent structure or across the street.

 

To "improve" location capabilities you've got IP geo-location from Wi-Fi, but even that is not 100% accurate.  Depending upon where your device's IP traffic egresses to the Internet and how accurate the geo-location information is for that egress IP address, it cloud be close or thousands of miles away.  Case in point, my AT&T IP address - depending upon the geo-location service queried - gives wildly varying results:

  • Redmond, WA, USA
  • Dallas, TX, USA
  • Arrington, TN, USA

Combining cell tower triangulation, GPS, and IP geo-location would likely get you close to my physical address (which is near the last one above), but I'm located in a more rural area.  That level of precision in large metropolitan areas will simply not be the same...and I've seen it play out in practice.  Additionally, it doesn't provide any information about what floor you may be on, which is especially problematic for larger metropolitan areas with high-rise buildings.

 

I don't disagree that customers are moving towards soft-phone & mobile approaches, but my point is that the technology available in the cloud-based solutions today in S4BO and Teams are missing components that customers depend on, either voluntarily or legislatively.   I acknowledge that customers will make their own decisions on technology solutions and it is also up to the customer to determine what legal and life-safety requirements those technology solutions must meet.  What I stress to my customers, however, is that simply "assuming" things will be "OK" is in most cases, not the best approach.

 

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/bs-md-911-cell-phones-20160206-story.html

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/son-dies-mom-sues-over-911-snafu/

https://ucvnext.org/2016/02/enhanced-911-in-skype4b-server-and-lync-server-part-1/

 

Wi-Fi assisted GPS is not the same as GeoIP.

 

I've not heard of any plans to expand the Emergency Location service in Teams, do feel free to go and suggest/vote on UserVoice. 

For anyone else wanting better emergency calling support, please vote up this UserVoice request: https://microsoftteams.uservoice.com/forums/555103-public/suggestions/34037074-e911-support-in-teams...
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