Boxer and Feinstein Push FCC for Reliable Location Data of Wireless 911 Callers

Last month, PublicCEO alerted our readers to the fact that more than half of wireless 911 calls placed in California are delivered without the call’s location information.

It is a growing problem among the public safety community nationwide.

Last week, Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein joined two other senators in a letter urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to examine the current 911 location system and ensure that wireless calls for help can be located by first responders.

A recent study reported by the LA Times found that throughout California, emergency responders aren’t able to quickly, reliably or accurately locate the majority of wireless 911 calls they receive. The study also found that in some urban areas, like San Francisco, less than one in five wireless 911 calls includes the vital location information that 911 dispatchers need to determine where to send help if the caller is unable to tell the dispatcher where he or she is.

Most callers assume that a 911 operator will know where they are if they call, regardless of whether they are calling from a landline or a wireless phone. Unfortunately, that is not the case for most wireless callers, particularly those calling from indoor locations, and current FCC regulations only require the measurement of outdoor location accuracy. For 911 callers, lives are often on the line, and every second spent trying to find someone in desperate need of help is a second too long.

It is encouraging to see our senators taking a stand to correct this public safety crisis, but we need the FCC to act on this critical issue. With more and more people abandoning their landlines in favor of wireless phones, this problem is sure to grow – putting lives in jeopardy. The residents of cities, counties, states and nation will be at risk until the FCC adopts indoor location accuracy standards to match those of outdoor calls.

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