Cisco's emergency caller can send first responders to the wrong location

911 is a joke

Cisco has warned that its Emergency Responder product can send emergency services to the wrong location under some circumstances.

The networking giant promotes Emergency Responder as an enhancement to its Unified Communications Manager as it "assures that Cisco Unified Communications Manager will send emergency calls to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for the caller's location, and that the PSAP can identify the caller's location and return the call if necessary." The product even automatically tracks and updates equipment moves, so that calls to authorities include accurate location info.

That's important, because the product records a default Emergency Response Location (ERL) – perhaps a company's head office – but also uses Automatic Location Information (ALI) to determine the physical location of end users, who may be in a branch office.

Under some circumstances, however, only the default ERL is considered.

In a field notice issued last Friday, Cisco admitted that "Where IP Subnet tracking (IPv4 and IPv6) is used to track devices and clients, Cisco Emergency Responder Release 15SU1 may route emergency calls using the default Emergency Response Location (ERL) instead of the actual ERL associated for the location of the caller.

"This can result in emergency dispatchers responding to the wrong address, building, or location."

Suffice to say that’s not what's needed in an actual emergency.

A further wrinkle means calls "could be routed to an Emergency Call Relay Center to determine the actual location, which may incur a charge."

The good news is that the sole flawed version of the tool – 15 SU1 – appears to have been released on March 28, so may not be widely deployed. And the fix is easy because a patch is already available. ®

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