By Mark Westbrook / Published May 2020
When it comes to emergency communication for life safety purposes, modern marvels like cell phones and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which uses the Internet as your regular phone service, may not be your most practical option. Here, we raise some awareness to the limitations of utilizing VoIP for emergency calls made from your property.
Usually, the reason for choosing this technology is to get cheaper phone service than you might get with the traditional carriers. Awe-some, except for a few things: many VoIP providers don’t provide usual phone-comp-any features like directory listings. Most importantly, many are not equipped to provide 911 services or to come through in a pinch in the event of an emergency.
VoIP can be problematic for elevator phone use because of specific code requirements, including monitoring around the clock and the ability of the monitoring party to call back into the cab in the event of a disconnection. Monitoring 24/7 will often mean you have a third party involved, and if on VoIP, that third party will likely need access to your network. Ask your IT team how they feel about that. Outside of internal comfort levels with outside access to your network, relying on the availability of internet service for emergency events is not recommended. Emergency lines do not typically fit the bill for VoIP.
Furthermore, there have been security vulnerabilities associated with VoIP networks. Hackers prefer to work with VoIP data, which are easier to intercept over the wide-open Internet. Also, VoIP data is digital, which can be easily accessed. Even though VoIP is considered more sophisticated and modern than old-fashioned landlines, hackers are more sophisticated, too. They work hard to access VoIP information as it travels around the worldwide web. This isn’t something you want to gamble with when dealing with private calls and personal information protected by HIPAA.
Five indicators that your VoIP system is being hacked, according to VoIPreview.org:
Here are a few other tips for protecting your data online:
If your tenants have remote workers, recommend a virtual private network (VPN).
A virtual private network (VPN) is a way to use your private Wi-Fi from places other than your main location. Remote workers or tenants can log in and work online without having to use a public or insecure Wi-Fi network.
You may be surprised at how many remote workers and tenants don’t take this concern seriously. According to the cybersecurity company ObserveIT, of 1000 employees surveyed, 77 percent admitted to connecting to free public Wi-Fi networks while using corporate-owned computers and phones. In fact, only 17 percent of respondents claimed to use a VPN when working away from the office. That is not cool.
A complex, obscure password may thwart thieves who are trying to access your account. Create a password with at least 10 characters that include numbers, symbols, punctuation, and upper/lowercase letters. Also consider getting a password manager to help you remember which password goes where, and change your passwords often.
Software, firewalls, and operating systems are always updating because they’re trying to stay one step ahead of hackers and other trespassers. Your online protection will be useless if it’s not updated to the most current version. Pay attention to security updates or work closely with your IT professional to keep a close watch on this.
As you can see, VoIP raises some issues that you simply don’t want to take chances with when you’re dealing with emergency situations that must be handled with care. That doesn’t mean there’s not a solution. Landline service, while reliable, is not the only answer. In fact, it is far from perfect, especially when it comes to time to connect.
Utilizing cellular service is the viable solution. Here’s how to customize cellular for emergency use:
By utilizing a cellular emergency phone monitoring service, you can eliminate landlines as well as avoid some of the security limitations associated with VoIP and emergency calls.
Southeastern Regional Business Development Manager, Kings III Emergency Communications
Mark Westbrook serves as the Southeastern Regional Business Development Manager. Mark brings with him more than 30 years of sales and service management in the life-safety industry. This experience has helped him succeed in developing a team that is one of the top experts in the emergency communications services in the Southeastern region. Mr. Westbrook was born and raised in Georgia but has made his home in the Tampa Bay Area for the last 30 years. For more information on Kings III, call (833) 807-2890 or visit kingsiii.com.