Testing Could Save Your Life

When deploying a new PBX (cloud or on-premise) there's so much you need to test. Everything from the apparently simple act of receiving calls to making sure that your MI gets pushed out at the other end. Two things that are often not considered are: can you dial emergency services; and are you sending the correct location information when you call out? So, what happens if you need to call 999?

Use Your Mobile

Everyone has a mobile, right? Maybe not. Most contact centres will either restrict or outright ban the use of mobile phones on the floor and in an emergency, the last thing you need to be thinking about is where to find a phone. After all, you’re probably surrounded by them.

In a contact centre, being able to just pick up the phone and call 999 isn’t always that simple. With Avaya Communication Manager, you’ve got Dial Plans, AAR/ARS tables, Route Patterns, Trunks, and maybe a Session Manager – all in the way of you being able to call the emergency services. Picking up the phone in a contact centre is not the same as picking up your phone at home. And because it's related to configuration - and therefore prone to error or omission - testing always comes recommended.

Let’s get that tested

It should be as simple as just making the calls when you're ready, but it's a bit of a legal grey area and it's always best to err on the side of caution. It's also a good idea to avoid calling when it might be inconvenient for the emergency services, such as during shift changes or when they know they'll have lower staffing levels. With all of that said, they acknowledge that testing is vital so there’s bound to be a procedure, right? Again, if only it were that simple.

A large amount of searching online bore no definitive fruit, but getting in touch with BT seemed like the right choice. Three live chats, a phone call, two emails, and two weeks later I got an answer: there is a procedure. It shouldn't be this hard, but it is, so we've documented it to save you the hassle!

Ticking the boxes

To begin with, there’s are some questions and some caveats:

  1. The date and time for the test calls. The recommended test windows are Monday to Friday 09:00 to 16:00, avoiding Bank Holidays.
  2. At least 48 hours’ notice is required.
  3. The number of calls to be made. BT recommend a minimum of three calls – two to 999 and one to 112.
  4. The CLI from which test calls will originate. Multiple contact centre locations mean multiple test calls - likely from different numbers.
  5. The initials of the engineers who will be placing the test calls.

Responses to these should be sent by email to 999testcalls@bt.com, and you should expect to hear back reasonably quickly. Once the test details have been agreed, a test script will be provided so that the 999 operator immediately knows how to handle your call and minimises the amount of their time that’s used. At the same time, you'll avoid that tricky legal grey area entirely.

In the end

One day you may need to make the same tests and this process should save you some time. Hopefully you never have to call emergency services, but if you do you'll be glad you tested.