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scerruti
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 4:07 pm    Post subject: How VOIP E911 might work Reply with quote Back to top

In another thread:

Jo wrote:
One poster has suggested that Vonage should provide automatic routing of 911 to the appropriate emergency center. How could that be done? IP addresses can't be resolved to street addresses.


The technical issues have already been addressed by a number of different groups. Implementation of Voip E911 would require some enhancements, but most could be made to existing hardware through a firmware upgrade.

The address information would be added to the current DNS system using an existing record type or, in the future, by adding a new record type to DNS. Machines would have the option to learn about their physical address via their DHCP server. They can either accept or override that information.

This would alleviate consumers from having to set their own addresses, their ISP would hand them their address when they got an IP address. This can be done using the circuit ID (or equivalent) for fixed lines (DSL, CABLE, T1s) or by using the ALI information for dialup. Wireless ISPs would have to implement something similar to what was done for Wireless E911 using network based (triangulation) or device based (GPS) location.

Internal networks would propogate that information down to the machine level, possibly adding floor numbers or room numbers based on port connections, wireless router connection or triangulation.

Given the address, Voip servers would route a special emergency number to the correct call center. (One issue is whether that number should be universal, currently 911 in the US and I believe 112 in Europe and other numbers elsewhere).

Call centers would be required to submit their geographical responsibility to a single authoritative database which could be accessed by all carriers. It might also be possible to implement some type of wide area ARP like protocol, but this would not be the best mechanism.

Addresses would probably be in the form of both geographic coordinates and Street addresses when available, however GIS software does a fair job of translation and could be used where both forms are not available.

This plan requires:

1) Incorporation of emergency dialing standards into Voip carrier equipment
2) Development of a worldwide emergency call center database
3) Incorporation of location awareness into routers, modems, Voip phones (SW & HW) and adapters via DNS lookups or manual configuration*
4) Eventual incorporation of geographical awareness into ISP infrastructure*
5) Conversion of current call centers into Voip based call centers.


* In the short term location awareness be handled by implementing firmware routers or Voip customer equipment that allowed end customers to manually specify addresses.

Also for the short term phones and adapters could be either queried or proactively let customers know if they were unable to automatically determine their location, or if the location was approximated, to request them to configure the device manually.

Voip (specifically SIP) adds a ton of features to emergency calling that are useful. It can be tied into alarm and fire systems and send text messages. Users could annotate their location information with medical data or special information about the premises (access, dogs, etc). Calls can be transferred or conferenced easily. The infrastructure required for a call center is greatly reduced allowing backup call centers to be built quickly and cheaply. Additionally it would be possible to test the system without human intervention at the call center to assure the user that an emergency call would be directed correctly.

Privacy: Some people will undoubtedly be concerned about location information being connected to their IP address. Therefore it would be necessary for ISPs to selectively turn off this capability (unlisted number). It would then be the responsibility of the customer to maintain their own address information. Another possibility is that DNS access to this information be restricted to the computer for which it is applicable, however if this were done it would be better not to use DNS as the repository.
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Jo
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

However many/most ISPs use dynamic IP address assignments for their residential clients. Also we probably have NAT in our routers thus the adaptor may be unaware of its public IP.

Are we saying that we have to wait for ipv6, when dynamic IP addresses and NAT become redundant?
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scerruti
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Joined: Feb 05, 2005
Posts: 1424
Location: Carlsbad, CA (finally)

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

No, the plan I outlined accounts for both DHCP and NAT. When an ISP assigns a dynamic IP it knows what circuit it is assigning it to (the port). That circuit can be identified geographically based on account information if it is DSL or Cable. If it is dial up it can be established via an ALI type lookup. If it is wireless it can be established via triangulation/signal strength or via customer equipment based GPS similar to what is required for Wireless E911. This location information can be dynamically updated in DNS tables using a mechanism similar to DDNS.

Many times the NAT and DHCP machine are the same box. When they are not, the internal DHCP server could request the location information via a DNS request. It is simple enough to determine your public IP address to do the lookup, there is already a Voip protocol that accomplishes this, "STUN enables a device to find out its public IP address and the type of NAT service its sitting behind." http://www.voip-info.org/wiki-STUN

In a corporate environment the IT staff would manually assign a location to each Ethernet port and wireless access point. This would provide more precise information (floor/office) versus street address.

I outlined a possible way to accomplish IP geolocation. There are probably better ways that don't use DNS, including implementation of a custom protocol. However, almost all network equipment has some DNS capability so it is an easy way to get the functionality in quickly.

One thing that is important to remember is that the current E911 system has similar location problems, especially when a company is using a PBX for multiple sites. The ANI/ALI information in the E911 center may be the site where the company gets phone service and not the caller's location. E911 operators therefore verify the caller's location whenever possible. The system doesn't need to be perfect, just as accurate as possible most of the time.
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kenn10
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Joined: Jun 07, 2004
Posts: 196
Location: Kennesaw, GA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

scerruti wrote:

One thing that is important to remember is that the current E911 system has similar location problems, especially when a company is using a PBX for multiple sites. The ANI/ALI information in the E911 center may be the site where the company gets phone service and not the caller's location. E911 operators therefore verify the caller's location whenever possible. The system doesn't need to be perfect, just as accurate as possible most of the time.


Your treatise is good.

Not all PBX's are created equal. The Avaya Multivantage and Communications Manager series allows remote SoftPhone users to specify a local number (say their home number) as the E911 number to send. Most teleworkers would be able to use that. In addition, this PBX allows for a local station or attendant to be notified if anyone in the switch dials 911 so that they can assist in location if necessary.

When the softphone user dials 911, the specified ANI is sent to the PSAP to access correct address location information. In addition, there are many third-party add-ons for most PBX's to handle the problem.

The issue encountered is that the call is still going to route to the PSAP for the PBX's wire center unless the tandem office is intelligent and uses the provided ANI (vs. the main number) to route the call. The number and name may come up just fine but the call will be in the wrong 911 center. The call is at least answered and can be transferred to the correct 911 center by the answering operator, provided the destination PSAP is in the same region.

Most companies with a large central PBX are able to de-centralize the trunking so that if, for example, the "brain" of the switch is in Atlanta, and you have remote cabinets off the switch in Chicago, New York and LA, local trunking is set up in those cities and selective digit analysis and routing is deployed to route 911 calls over local trunks in the distant cities. This is the only way you can currently insure that a large distributed network can route calls correctly.

Until the Voip companies figure out how to tandem calls into the correct destination 911 center or at least hit a major tandem switch for the region, little can be done.
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