Industry Research : 9-1-1 Calls from Cell Phones Delivered Without Accurate Location Information
A new analysis of data released by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) shows that more than one-third of all calls received by 9-1-1 emergency centers in Utah from wireless phones in June 2013 did not include the accurate location information necessary to find a caller in crisis.
The release of the Utah data coincided with a FCC workshop in Washington this week focused on problems in the e911 location system. At the workshop, 9-1-1 officials and public safety experts testified to the urgent national scope of the problem and urged immediate action to address it.
"If you use a cell phone, you probably think that a 9-1-1 operator can find you if you call in an emergency. Unfortunately, that assumption could be fatally flawed," said Jamie Barnett, former Chief of the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau and Director of the Find Me 911 Coalition. "For more than a third of wireless callers in Utah, the emergency call arrived without accurate information on the caller's location, putting lives at risk when callers don't know or can't share their location. The FCC should take immediate action to ensure that all 9-1-1 callers can be immediately located in a crisis, whether indoors or outside, in a rural or urban setting."
Statewide data released by the FCC and analyzed by the Find Me 911 Coalition found that 846,090 of the wireless calls received in Utah 9-1-1 emergency centers since January 2011 lacked accurate "Phase II" location information which displays the location of the caller, despite FCC regulations requiring accurate location data to be provided for all calls. In most cases, the 9-1-1 call center only received basic "Phase I" data showing the location of the cell tower from which the call originated, information of little use to emergency responders given the large area covered by each tower.
"In an emergency situation, just seconds can mean the difference between life and death. As this data shows, quick action by the FCC would not only save lives around the country, it will save lives right here in Utah," said Gary Gygi, current Mayor of Cedar Hills, and former board member of the Utah Valley Dispatch Special Service District.
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The data also highlighted the increased number of wireless 9-1-1 calls received in the state during recent years.
"Some have tried to blame this problem on 9-1-1 operators for not 'rebidding' to request more accurate location information, but that is not fair to our 9-1-1 professionals," continued Barnett. "Emergency personnel need accurate location data as soon as a 9-1-1 call arrives, both to help route it to the appropriate call center and to respond to the emergency, particularly if the call is cut off before a location can be given. This is a growing national crisis, and we urge the FCC and carriers to work with us to adopt indoor location requirements and solve this dangerous problem."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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