North America's largest casino, Foxwoods Resort Casino®, is located in the rolling hills of southeastern Connecticut. Owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, Foxwoods features 1,416 guest rooms and suites in three hotels, more than 30 restaurants, a luxurious spa, more than 50,000 square feet of premium meeting and event space, 24 retail shops and five entertainment venues, including the 1,400-seat Fox Theatre. It also features two, 18-hole championship golf courses designed by Rees Jones.
In Spring 2008, the spectacular MGM Grand at Foxwoods® added 825 luxurious guest rooms, 115,000 square feet of meeting space, a 4,000-seat Performing Arts Theater, 21,000 square feet of spa facilities as well as more dining, retail and gaming venues, bolstering Foxwoods' preeminence as the East Coast's ultimate casino resort destination.
Every day, more than 40,000 guests and a significant contingent of the resort's 11,000 employees are on campus. In fact, if Foxwoods Resort were a city, it would be the 14th largest in the state of Connecticut—and the addition of the MGM Grand is already adding exponentially to their size. Foxwoods' diversity is compounded by its numerous locations—hotels, casinos, administrative offices, service buildings, recreation facilities and shops. Adding to the complexity, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Government offices and staff are also located on campus. All of this creates a unique set of enhanced 911 (E911) requirements for responding to emergencies relating to both staff and guests.
With people come emergencies—and when an emergency develops, everyone knows they should dial "911." The emergency response network that responds to those calls is also widespread, because the casino and tribal facilities range across five local communities, each with its own police, fire and ambulance services and public safety answering point (PSAP) centers to receive and process 911 calls.
But the biggest emergency management challenges for Foxwoods are those faced by any organization with private branch exchange (PBX) phone systems, which can't inherently identify a 911 caller's location. An emergency response team's ability to get to the right location is dramatically affected by how fast they can get this information. Without correct information from the state's public automatic location information (ALI) database, a call originating from a PBX system is identified at the PSAP only by the system's billing location.
The complexity of Foxwood's system—more than 8,800 telephones, including direct inward dialing (DID), non-DID as well as VoIP equipment, connected via a PBX to five different PSAP centers—is compounded by all the issues that arise in both hospitality and government environments. Those include a constantly changing guest population, with language and cultural diversity as well as varying degrees of familiarity with their surroundings. When Bill Shostak, Senior Engineer of Telecom Engineering, issued a request for proposals, numerous vendors replied, but only Spok was able to fulfill all the requirements of this challenging situation.
In October 2007, the Spok® Enterprise Alert enhanced 911 system was implemented at Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal administrative offices and community services operations. The system is able to interface with the PBX systems at Foxwoods and the various public safety providers, capture telephone moves, adds or changes made during the previous 24 hours, and then upload any new information to the state's ALI database. The Spok Enterprise Alert system also enables real-time notification of security and staff while a 911 call is in progress, which allows security to respond to situations in progress, provide crowd control, or assist the first responders.
When a 911 call originates from Foxwoods Resort, the area on the property, such as the hotel or casino is identified by the E911 service, along with the floor, room number, or other location (parking garage, golf pro shop, ballroom, council chambers, etc.). The information is sent directly to the tribe's onsite PSAP center for response. When a 911 call is made from an off-resort facility, the telephone number, building, floor and room location are sent to the appropriate community's PSAP. The information is received via a pop-up screen on the PSAP agent's computer at the same time they answer the call, enabling fast, accurate response to any situation.
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation wanted to provide E911 service at Foxwoods and the Reservation. The system needed to provide the exact location of any 911 caller to the right PSAP, quickly and accurately. Their goal was safety and a smooth, professional response to emergency situations—for the sake of their guests and everyone in their organization.
The agents at all of the PSAPs and emergency response entities involved have responded very favorably to the availability of precise information as they answer 911 calls. Over the first months of implementation, the professionalism of the resort's responses to 911 calls, enabled by the Spok Enterprise Alert system's capabilities, have been well received by both employees and guests of the resort. "We got everything that we asked for from [Spok]," said Shostak. "We went with them because nobody else could meet our needs. They've done that and more."