Emergency Calling (911)

Last updated: December 9, 2022
Audience: All UW

To make an emergency call, dial 911. (UW-IT provided phones also support dialing 9-911. Both methods connect to the same emergency services.)

For non-emergent issues and other services, contact the local safety office for your campus:

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Handles Emergency Calls?

Emergency calls are handled by a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), often referred to as the “911 operator” or “911 dispatcher”. There are multiple PSAPs. Which PSAP you reach is determined on a per-call basis, based on location and service type (landline vs cellular).

How Does an Emergency Call Get to the Right PSAP?

It is important that an emergency call gets to the right PSAP in the caller’s area. How an emergency call routes depends on where the call originates.

  • From campus:
    Campus emergency calls are routed to a public phone carrier connection at the same or nearest UW campus. This provides the fastest carrier routing and best call quality, regardless of which campus the call originates from. From there, the carrier’s system uses location data (see below) to route the call to the correct PSAP.
  • Remote worker:
    Remote worker emergency calls are routed to an emergency call routing service. This cloud service uses the location data entered by the remote worker (see below) to route the call to the correct PSAP anywhere in the country. Remote Workers are responsible for keeping their Emergency Location up-to-date using the Emergency Location Management web portal (see below).
    Office workers at UW offices in non-campus cities use the same routing service, but they do not need to individually manage their office addresses.

Updating Your Address Information

Emergency calls through the UW-IT phone system rely on pre-entered location information that is published to a national location database. Read below to see how different systems work to get your call and your address information to the correct PSAP. It is important that customers keep their location information up to date, so that emergency calls connect to the right PSAP and emergency services can go to the right location.

  • Telephone Number Management System
    When phone service is ordered, UW-IT updates the Telephone Number Management system to associate the new phone number with the physical location provided at the time of the order. The location data is very granular, often down to the room number.
    This data is manually updated by UW-IT upon request. When customers move their own phones (e.g. switching offices), it is important that customers report the location changes to help@uw.edu. Location updates happen every 24 hours.
  • Emergency Location Information Number Server
    Phone Service is usually provided by a Voice-over-IP (VoIP) system. Most UW phones like desk phones and softphones are VoIP devices. When a VoIP device connects to the network, a server uses network information to determine roughly where the phone is on campus. The location data is less granular, often down to the building and floor.
    This data is then compared to the data in the Telephone Number Management System. If the two addresses don’t agree, the server will associate the phone number with a general location (like a building and/or floor) for emergency calls.
  • Emergency Location Management for Remote Workers
    Remote workers are required to use the Emergency Location Management web portal to provide and update their current working location. This portal is available only to customers that have enrolled for the Remote Worker service with UW-IT.
    Unlike the Telephone Number Management System, location updates through the Emergency Location Management web portal are processed immediately. This location data is used to route calls to the correct PSAP anywhere in the country. As an example, if you work from your house in Ferndale, the data provided will cause your emergency call to route to the PSAP for the Ferndale area, despite having a phone number from a different city.