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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

FCC Eyes More Accurate 911 Location Service

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Federal Communications Commission has proposed new standards that would allow 911 responders to pinpoint the origin of calls made from multi-story buildings.

The FCC first adopted rules for wireless location accuracy for 911 in 1996, and significantly revised the rules in 2010.

"(The) increase in wireless usage is reflected in how Americans call for help when they need it: today, the majority of 911 calls come from wireless phones," the FCC wrote. "In light of these circumstances, it is increasingly important for public safety answering points (PSAPs) to have the ability to accurately identify the location of wireless 911 callers regardless of whether the caller is located indoors or outdoors."

The FCC now has proposed further revisions to its location accuracy rules.

In 2012, the FCC initiated tests on 911 calls from indoor locations in the San Francisco Bay area to find "whether indoor location technologies could achieve the location result needed for improved public safety response."

The working group who conducted the tests concluded that "additional development is required," especially in urban areas.

The FCC noted that new technologies have been developed in recent years that could improve location accuracy for 911 calls.

In the proposed framework, within two years of the rule's adoption, providers would be required to have 67 percent of the calls located within 50 horizontal meters of the caller.

Within five years, the FCC would expect 80 percent of 911 calls to be that accurate.

The FCC seeks comments on a number of aspects related to its proposal, such as whether it should establish a 30 second maximum time period for a provider to find a 911 caller's location.

The FCC's goal is for anyone using a mobile phone--"whether they are calling from urban or rural areas, from indoors or outdoors"--have technology capable of providing accurate location information in times of an emergency, the FCC wrote.

The FCC seeks comment on whether their proposal is the best way to achieve this objective.

The FCC encourages industry, public safety entities, and other stakeholders to work collaboratively to develop alternatives.

Comments are due May 12.

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