Wow, E911 Has Finally Come Along

from the never-thought-we'd-see-the-day dept

For years, there's been talk of how 911 service needed to include the ability for a mobile phone user's location to be sent to call centers when they made an emergency call. The implementation has taken ages, thanks to toothless government "crackdowns" and constantly backpedaling deadlines. Another big reason was that tax money intended to upgrade call centers to be able to receive the info was instead spent on winter boots and ballpoint pens. So it was with some surprise that we saw 95 percent of the US population now lives in an area with 911 call centers that can receive their location from a wireless phone, and over 90 percent of individual call centers in the US have the ability. That's quite a milestone for a program that looked for a long time like it was going nowhere; hopefully implementation of the next 911 upgrade won't take nearly as long.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    long island girl, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 5:16am

    this is a very good news

    It's finally here. This is a very big benefit, convenience and helpful not only to the people in 911 but most especially to the people who needs their help. We'll just hope that next time if they will have an upgrade on their service, it will not take this long.

     

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    NullOp, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 6:55am

    911

    The next step should be streaming video, if available, so responders can get a better picture of whats going on. Don't look for that to happen anytime soon. America tends to treat technology as a means to play video games and peruse porn rather than a way to actually improve the human condition.

     

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  3.  
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    Murdock (profile), Feb 6th, 2009 @ 7:20am

    Yes they forced VoIP providers to do it in a year..

    Remember back when Vonage and other VoIP providers burst onto the scene? Suddenly E911 for them was a huge deal, government mandate that they implement it in less than 12 months, which most of the managed. Yet cell providers have had over 10 years.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 7:42am

    Re: 911

    this isnt improving human condition? i dont know, improves my condition many times.

     

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  5.  
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    Stefanie Linnemann, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 7:47am

    Re: 911

    We here at VIXXI Solutions, a Next Generation 911 company, offer the ability to provide streaming video E911 today (along with text E911).

     

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  6.  
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    Me, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 8:00am

    I wouldn't break out the champagne just yet....

    As someone who works in E-911 technology, I can say that this 90% looks good if viewed all by itself. Just because the 911 call center CAN recieve the location information doesn't mean it DOES. In order for the 911 call center to be getting the location information from the carriers there are a couple of things that have to happen:
    * They have to REQUEST if from the carrier.
    * The carrier has to be able to provide the data.

    The first one is very easy; the second, not so much...

    There are several different way a carrier can attempt to determine location and they all have advantages and disadvantages:
    A-GPS - The preferred method for Verizon, Sprint and other CDMA carriers works great when you're outside, not so well in a building (GPS doesn't penetrate walls), AND the phone must have a GPS chip in it. Now ouy all are going to say "All CDMA phones have a GPS in them now" NOW is the operative word, GPS didn't start showing up in CDMA handsets until 2002, so any handset prior to that time (and you would be amazed at the number of those still in operation) will not have that technology available.
    UTDOA - The method used by AT&T, T-Mobile and other GSM carriers. This works great in areas that have sufficient coverage for signals to reach enough cell sites, not so good in more sparsely populated areas.

    The bottom line is that even though the 911 centers can recieve the data, statistically speaking, carriers are barely meeting E911 requirements of accuracy within 300 meters and in large expanses of land are not able to meet it at all.

     

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  7.  
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    Robert A. Rosenberg, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 8:04am

    Re: Yes they forced VoIP providers to do it in a year..

    The difference between VoIP and Cell Phones is that the VoIP Box is in a fixed location (ignoring the issue of moving the Box to another location and tracking the move) so once the address is registered into a Database that is it.

    For a Cell Phone's CURRENT location to be reported you need to triangulate via the towers it is talking to (the original method) and guess at the location OR require the customer to have a Handset that has a GPS capability built in. The GPS-in-Handsets has taken time and the triangulation method needed updating to the support at the tower.

     

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  8.  
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    Robert A. Rosenberg, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 8:15am

    GPS and Buildings

    The fact that a Handset with a GPS chip might not report its CURRENT location while in a building (since it can not receive a good signal) is a fake claim. The phone is tracking while it is outdoors and has a signal. When it loses the signal it can (and should) remember where it was when the signal was lost and report it along with an indication that it is not accurate due to no GPS signal at the current location. My auto GPS unit will report the location where it was when powered off while it is searching for an updated location/signal so why is a phone unable to do the same? IOW: Send the indication of "Signal Lost" (went into a building) or "Phone Powered Off" (if the user turned the phone off and just turned it on without a GPS signal to make the emergency call).

     

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  9.  
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    darkcooger, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 8:38am

    GPS indoors

    My Nokia 6650 is able to acquire a lock on 5 to 7 GPS satellites as I sit at my desk at work (like right now). I've actually never been in a place that it couldn't get a satellite lock. Just saying.

     

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  10.  
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    Rick, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 9:37am

    Now how about a way to switch it off, to protect our privacy.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2009 @ 4:20pm

    Re: Re: Yes they forced VoIP providers to do it in a year..

    The difference between VoIP and Cell Phones is that the VoIP Box is in a fixed location (ignoring the issue of moving the Box to another location and tracking the move) so once the address is registered into a Database that is it.

    Umm, you mean the telcos didn't know where there towers were or that the towers somehow kept moving around on them?

    For a Cell Phone's CURRENT location to be reported you need to triangulate via the towers...

    Yep, see what I wrote above.

    OR require the customer to have a Handset that has a GPS capability built in.

    A technology that has been available for quite a while now.

    The GPS-in-Handsets has taken time and the triangulation method needed updating to the support at the tower.

    And both could have been done in the same 12 months given the VoIP carriers to upgrade their systems but the telcos have been given preferential treatment by the government, as usual. Of course the telcos have been providing the government with warrantless wiretaps in return. Scratching each other's backs, as the saying goes.

     

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  12.  
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    anon tower climber, Feb 8th, 2009 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Yes they forced VoIP providers to do it in a year..

    hmm actually on a gsm network the gps is rather pseudo- there is a gsm antenna at the site that actually 'sees' the satelite, and that antenna in turn talks to the cell antennas, not to your phone. locating you is a matter of determining the your signal strength in a cluster of wireless nodes.

     

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    anon tower climber, Feb 8th, 2009 @ 9:23am

    correction- there is an antenna that 'sees' both satellite and gsm a dual antenna, not a gsm signal to the sat itself.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2009 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Yes they forced VoIP providers to do it in a year..

    Actually, the antennas are a very small part of the system. I know that they're probably the part that you see as you drive by but, believe me, there's a whole lot more to it than that.

     

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  15.  
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    Microchip Programmer, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 9:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Yes they forced VoIP providers to do it in a year..

    The gps chip in your phone is about the size of your smallest fingernail. It only requires one (or two) antenna(s) and signal from 2 or more satellites to fix your position.

     

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  16.  
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    Phone user, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 5:54am

    Now how about a way to switch it off, to protect our privacy.

    You privacy freaks make my teeth itch. Anything that might actually help people might "invade my freakish privacy so no one knows I stop at the porn emporium every day at lunch and after work. I don't want anyone to know my perversions!"

    I think people like you should get a phone that doesn't have GPS, cannot dial 911 and have your number recorded so no one responds to your call. Oh ya, you probably use call block to "protect your privacy" so no one gets your number in the first place.

    So stick your idiotic head in the sand and stop blocking safety measures that will do NOTHING but help save lives - hopefully not yours, but what the hell.

    Freak.

     

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