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BT Assure Voice Continuity can help emergency services enhance the resilience of vital voice networks
Running an emergency service is a huge responsibility. When seconds can mean the difference between life and death, meeting targets to reach life-threatening incidents is paramount. Dependable technology is vital.
With smartnumbers from BT, comprehensive alternative call routing arrangements mean such organisations can rest assured that calls will get through. That sort of resilience assists in putting help exactly where it’s needed at all times.
BT and Resilient Networks really understood what we were trying to achieve. With smartnumbers we have the ultimate tool to help us plan for the unexpected.”
- Spokesperson, Ambulance Service
As the frontline of the National Health Service (NHS), an ambulance service might typically have separate control centres answering local area emergency calls with a disaster recovery (DR) centre in reserve. Naturally, should circumstances dictate, it’s likely that each centre must be able to handle the entire load.
Different sources – including 999 operators, the police, fire service, local health trusts, and GPs – are often given different numbers to call, which assists ambulance services in managing call flows and prioritising the most urgent cases.
A spokesperson for an ambulance service said: “We experienced network incidents affecting some of our inbound numbers. Making alternative routing arrangements was a manual process, which was time consuming and stressful for the duty manager. We approached BT for help in finding a more automated way of working.”
The BT Assure Voice Continuity service – using the smartnumbers call routing platform supplied by BT in association with Resilient Networks – offers a simple emergency services solution. It can provide flexible call routing options against predetermined contingency plans invoked automatically or in seconds by dialling in from a touch-tone telephone, via a web portal, or by calling a user helpdesk.
Implementation involves terminating phone numbers allocated to the various agencies on the hosted smartnumbers platform. Under normal circumstances calls are routed to match the original call delivery arrangements. However, in the event of a network incident, a physical emergency or bad weather impacting a site, alternative routing arrangements can be made in an instant.
“We have a large amount of inbound numbers and, with the help of BT, we developed call routing plans for each one,” confirmed the spokesperson. “It took some planning but that investment means we now have robust contingency plans in place, meaning we can operate very effectively in almost any situation.”
Like other emergency services, ambulance contact centres can serve several hundred extensions across locations including regional and national headquarters, ambulance control centres, disaster recovery sites, and ambulance stations. For added resilience each primary site can be equipped with a gateway allowing local breakout to the public network.
BT Assure Voice Continuity enables emergency services to develop robust and advanced disaster recovery plans, enabling them to cost effectively deliver enhanced business continuity. In the event of a serious incident, rather than having to call all the agencies to tell them to phone a different number, the redirection process is automatic. Just one phone call or a few mouse clicks are needed.
This means the service can react with greater speed and efficiency, and all but eliminates the potential for human error. The spokesperson said: “We get just a few minutes to arrange for an ambulance to reach an emergency in a life-threatening situation, so using smartnumbers to almost instantly re-route incoming calls to overcome unplanned incidents gives us genuine peace-of-mind.”
As well as unplanned events, smartnumbers can also assist with alternative call routing for planned scenarios such as network upgrades, equipment maintenance or building refurbishment. As well as invoking the published dial plans, each line can be redirected to any location, providing the ultimate in call routing flexibility using the inherent resilience of the BT public network.
Regular validation of business continuity arrangements is recommended involving, for example, a live evacuation of a control centre. The spokesperson recalls their experience of such an event: “In a test exercise we used smartnumbers to first reroute calls to an alternative centre. When sufficient agents arrived we redirected calls to our DR site. The transition was seamless and the DR site was fully operational within 45 minutes. That speed of reaction just wouldn’t have been possible in the past.”
- BT Assure Voice Continuity, featuring smartnumbers delivered in association with Resilient Networks