New Technology Helps Towers Pinpoint 911 Cell Phone Locations

Originally posted by Inside Towers

Concerns about 911 calls from cell phones being routed incorrectly during emergencies and causing delayed response times is a challenge that new LaaSer technology has the answer for, reported WXIA-TV. Recently, a Cobb County woman died in a fire and incorrect routing of her 911 call is under investigation. The issue is a nationwide concern since 80-90 percent of 911 calls are made via cell phones.

The problem is that a call made from a wireless device in one county might hit a cell tower in another, diverting the call to the wrong 911 dispatcher. This summer, six Atlanta communities – Alpharetta, Milton, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Brookhaven and Johns Creek – will have access to new LaaSer technology, allowing emergency calls to be routed to the correct 911 center by pinpointing the caller’s location before directing the calls.

One major concern is that some 911 dispatchers are receiving tower locations, not the location of the person making the 911 call, and the variance could be up to a one-mile difference or more. During emergencies, every second counts. WXIA-TV gave an example of a 911 field test call made with a cell phone by LaaSer inventors Fred White and Michael Self, without their new technology activated:

Dispatcher: “911, what’s the address of your emergency?” Caller: “This is not an emergency call, this is a field test call only. Can you please validate the address on your CAD display?” Dispatcher: “Um, the phone is showing 300 Batesville Road, the CAD is showing 374 Gables Walk.” Caller: “Both of those are the cell tower.” Caller: “It’s still about a mile away.” Caller: “Is this Alpharetta?” Dispatcher: “It is.”

Using the LaaSer technology, the field test communication via cell phone went differently:

Dispatcher: “Cherokee County 911. What’s the address of your emergency?” Caller: “This is not an emergency call. This is a technician field test call. Can you please verify the address on your CAD display?” Dispatcher: “Yes, well the phone display is showing 1 The Fairway. Hey, are you there?” Caller: “Yes, it’s 1 The Fairway in Woodstock, Georgia?” Dispatcher: “Yeah, it’s showing 1 The Fairway.”

With the LaaSer technology activated, the precise location of the caller is determined prior to the call being routed to the 911 center. Even with this solution available, telecom companies and the government are “taking a long time” to implement, reported WXIA-TV. The recently formed Georgia Emergency Management Agency will meet this month to discuss the project.

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