Indy Business: How Does e911 Work?

icon-ambulance Indy Business: How Does e911 Work?

Have you ever wondered how 911 calling actually works?  With old analog telephone service provided by the phone companies, the call would route through local stations that could transfer it to local emergency services.  But what about for Indianapolis VoIP phone service like we provide?  How does it get where it needs to go?


Area codes mean nothing.

Before voice-over IP and cell phones, area codes mattered.  But now mobile phones, home phones, and business phones can use numbers from any area code for the same cost as their local area code.  A Seattle area code can be routed to Indiana, and vice-versa.  So clearly a 911 call can’t route just based on the area code anymore.  Even if it could, how would you route a toll-free number?

The answer to that is actually pretty clever.


We know where you live.

When we provision a new number and allow it to send calls, we can also enable something called e911.  This is a service that provides extra information with the caller ID.  Let’s use our number for example and say it’s provisioned to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

Here’s what happens:

911 is called from a phone; the caller ID is set to 317-644-0075; and we have in our system that when that number calls 911, the location tied to it is 1 Monument Cir, Indianapolis, IN 46204.  So before the emergency dispatcher can even answer the call, they know that the call is probably coming from that address.  If the phone dies or the caller can’t give them much information, they at least know where to start looking.

Of course, the dispatcher would still ask for the caller’s current location because they know that what it says in the system may not be where the phone is located.  And that’s pretty much it.  We solve the problem of mobility by sending a little extra data along with the call.


Hopefully this post has clarified some of the mystery around current e911 calling.  Feel free to contact us about our voip phone service, or give us a call if you have any questions.  Thanks, and have a great day!