Jun 28, 2022
When you call 911, minutes are what separate you or someone you love from life or death in a serious emergency.
Data shows that 80% of 911 calls come from a mobile device but dispatch centers can struggle to find them.
Now, new technology is cutting down 911 response time by pinpointing the caller’s location.
AT&T is partnering with Intrado to introduce a new feature called Locate Before Route. It automatically transmits wireless 911 calls to the appropriate dispatch centers on a nationwide basis. Calls are now routed quicker and more accurately.
Usually when someone calls 911, the call pings off a cell phone tower and gets routed to a dispatch center based on the location of the tower. But whatever tower that call hit is just a point of reference for 911. It’s not the exact location.
Now, the cell phone tower is almost getting taken out as the middleman. The caller’s phone and its GPS provide a precise location.
JR Luna is the Vice President and General Manager for the state of Florida with AT&T.
“Prior to this technology, we were using cell sites, which could be up to a 10-mile radius from your call. This really allows first responders to know within 50 yards where an emergency could be happening,” Luna said.
That’s right, the location of 911 calls will shrink from 10 miles to 50 yards. That’s half of a football field!
“This will shave seconds off of emergency calls and it will make a difference for emergency responders getting to emergencies faster,” Luna said.
Dan Koenig is the senior manager for 911 Program Services for the Public Safety Department in Palm Beach County. Koenig said this technology will play a huge part in saving lives.
“Cell phone towers can be several miles away. So your call can go to other jurisdictions,” Koenig said.
That means that when someone calls 911, it could go to another county based on the location of the tower that picked up the call.
“It could go to the city next door. The call taker would have to go through and question the person, taking up some time and then they would have had to transfer the call,” Koenig said. “When you’re dialing 911, you’re already in some sort of distress. This way we can help the caller and ease them.”
Just like apps that use GPS to find and locate users, that’s all being tied into 911.”
When 911 was first developed, it was before we had smartphones.” Vice President of Technology for Intrado John Snapp said. “The challenge was that 911 isn’t an app on your phone that’s running. The phone has it, but we couldn’t get it off the phone … Now it’s using that exact location. We’re able to get that location off your phone and utilize it. And also use the other location that we had before which is where the network would ask the phone for the location.”
Snapp said 911 is getting the best of all the worlds now thanks to this technology.
Situations this will really help save lives in:
- The caller gets into an accident or an emergency but doesn’t know their location
- A child calls 911 but doesn’t know their address.
- The 911 caller isn’t able to speak
- The caller is in a location in which a further dispatcher could pick up the call rather than a closer one.
AT&T users don’t need to do anything to get the feature. There’s no switch to flip or button to tap. It’s automatic no matter what type of phone you have.
Verizon said it also uses an Emergency Call Server platform which allows Verizon to locate a device and route the call to the most efficient public safety answering point. T-Mobile says it launched location-based routing and has been working with public safety answering points to implement it.
Originally published at https://www.wcvb.com on June 28, 2022.