New phone switch will allow for more efficient emergency services, caller ID

Aging equipment in the Telecommunications office at Northern Kentucky University will have to be replaced in the near future.

Barbara Barnes, NKU telecommunications specialist, said the phone switch they currently use is 13 years old.

She said the switch does not have the ability to be upgraded to use call recognition software.

“We are in the process of looking at a switch that would provide those capabilities,” she said.

Barnes said there is a study of NKU’s 120 trunk lines at the beginning of every semester. In addition, Barnes said she does an out log report everyday. She said these studies indicate that no calls have been blocked.

Lt. Col. Keith Hill, of the Campbell County Police Department, said their 911 systems would not correctly identify the number from anyone calling from on campus because of the way the phone system is set up.

He said they work very closely with DPS.

“We work very closely with the Public Safety and they work very closely with us,” Hill said.

Jeff Butler, director of DPS, said that if someone on campus calls DPS (extension 5500) or the DPS emergency line (extension 7777), they could tell what phone the individual is calling from.

Butler said someone calling off-campus from a campus line would not be able to be identified.

Many caller-id recognition systems will register a call from campus as “Caller-id blocked”, “Out of Area” or may give the wrong number entirely.

Butler said someone calling 911 would be routed to the Campbell County dispatch. “It wouldn’t come into here,” he said.

The Kentucky legislature passed the Michael Minger Act, which added to the 1990 Campus Security Act, in 2000.

One of the bill’s proponents, Kentucky Representative Jim Wayne, said there is nothing in the Michael Minger Act governing caller recognition software and nothing to ensure that a person on campus could call 911 effectively.

There was some debate in the 2000-2001 General Assembly of such a clause or bill.

However, this attempt was not successful. Don Kiley, emergency services manager with Cincinnati Bell, said there could be similar legislation to come out of the federal level.

“It should be forthcoming soon, possibly as early as this year,” Kiley said.

In addition to the safety concerns, Todd Duncan, director of University Housing, believes that a change in the phone switch will bring added convenience to residential students.

“It’s bringing the technology that students are used to in their homes to their campus living,” he said.