It’s human nature: You’re often not thinking about your elevator emergency phones until it’s too late, right? Your elevator phones are likely a set-it-and-forget-it item, and, without being an expert on elevator code (which, let’s be honest, is not super riveting, much less, easy to follow), based on our experience with fellow we’re guessing you’ve got them connected to your PBX systems without realizing the potentially risk and liability this can bring. Afterall, you utilize it for the rest of your internal communications. Why should this be any different?

While PBX systems utilizing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) networks are ideal for general hotel communication, emergency communications paths within the elevator must meet unique code requirements and require special attention as it pertains to risk/liability reduction. Spoiler alert: inherent characteristics of these systems make them less than likely to be capable of meeting these codes, therefore putting exposing your hotel and its guests to vulnerability.

Consider these shortcomings:

Power outages

Elevator code requires a 4-hour battery backup. With a PBX system reliant on VoIP, no power to the router means there is no connection to the internet. If the power goes out, this renders what is supposed to be failsafe in a time of crisis useless.

Inconsistent dual-tone multifrequency (DTMF)

DTMF sends out important information signals and tones upon pressing certain keys on a telephone. On a VoIP-based PBX system, it is very common to see conflicts between DTMF settings throughout different components of the network, causing inconsistencies. This makes communication difficult, especially when trying to retrieve information from or calling back into a specific device (also code-required).

Liability risks

Best practices suggest digitally recording and automatically storing all emergency calls, date/time stamped, so they’re available for event verification, reporting, and potential litigation. Doing so on a PBX system would infringe on guests’ rights to privacy due to network access.

Not only does this put you at risk, but at worst, you’re compromising your guests’ safety, something of utmost importance. Furthermore, if a guest runs into issues with trying to use an emergency device, even in the best-case scenario where they experience no harm, it’s still a negative experience. You’re probably well aware of the direct trickle-down effect from negative experiences to negative customer reviews.

Bottom line: being out of compliance and compromising guest safety is not worth the convenience of your elevator phones connecting to your PBX systems. Proactivity vs. reactivity is key.

So, what’s the solution?

Our emergency experts at Kings III recommend Cellular LTE. A cellular elevator phone solution provides stability and reliability, helping to keep your hotels safe and skips having to make existing hotel PBX system compliant with elevator emergency communications codes. Our turnkey solution includes the dial tone, equipment, and dedicated monitoring, all consolidated within one vendor, helping to reduce risk/liability and avoid unforeseen maintenance costs.

By Dave Mann, VP of Technology at Kings III Emergency Communications