Monday, February 23, 2015

911 systems often use outmoded technology, cannot accurately located emergency callers, under FCC regulation

This may sound more like a post for the issues, Internet safety, or even main blog, but a lot of this problem has to do with the way communications technology is deployed under FCC regulation, so I’ll put it under “network neutrality” first. 
Tonight NBC News reported that most 911 operators can’t immediately locate someone from a cell phone call, because somehow cell phone routing isn’t precise enough.  Satellite technology, used by Garmin in your car route-planning software, is more accurate.  But the goal for the FCC is just 40% accuracy by 2017. 
The story by Jeff Rossen and Neil Mclravy is here.  The news report did a test in a 911 call center that appeared to be in Ashburn, VA and was off by a quarter mile.  It also reported that a young woman delivering newspapers at night drove into a pond and drowned because it too responders too long to find her, and the 911 operator could not locate the road she gave her. 
On the other hand, in the dropped 911 incident in New Jersey that starts the story of Brian Aitken (Books blog, Dec. 24, 2014) seemed to be tracked very accurately.
Accurate 911 tracking would be very critical in stopping home invasions and kidnappings and could be a real national security issue.

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