PSAPs have good reason to be concerned about wireless indoor location accuracy. We believe a physical address – not just an X/Y coordinate – is the gold standard for public safety. In addition, our research shows that current solutions like reverse geo-coding provide an incorrect address in approximately 15% of all 9-1-1 calls.
New advancements in Wireless Location Accuracy provide cost-effective strategies utilizing available technologies that can help carriers provide a dispatchable address to PSAPs.
Some carriers now deploy femtocells nationwide; passing the physical address of the subscriber with coverage of 150 meters. When their “personal cell site” is installed, the residential subscriber provides a dispatchable location. GPS data in the femotcell–in real time–provides geo-validation of the address and can detect femtocell movement. This dispatchable location and the X/Y location of the femtocell or handset is delivered to the PSAP and displayed on the call taker’s console without any changes.
Enterprise femtocells often cover definable indoor spaces such as offices and public structures. They are installed by a carrier or the enterprise and can provide a level of accuracy comparable to wireline with a dispatchable address. Devices with GPS can be used to reliably validate the address.
Geo-Relevant Wireless ALI
Using existing technology, geo-relevant wireless ALI provides a dispatchable location associated with the emergency caller. The ALI address data is collected from multiple sources including a user-provided address, public records databases and, potentially, a billing address.
For example, if a caller provides their home address, and the X/Y location shows the call is originating near the residence, it’s very likely that the call is being made from within the residence. In this example, the absence of any GPS coordinates would make it even more likely that a call is originating from inside the residence.
Even an associated address nearby (of a relative or a previously provided address) has extreme value to PSAPs as it provides them with a starting point of investigation. Initial testing indicates that 15-30% of all wireless 9-1-1 calls using this solution can deliver a dispatchable location.
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons and WiFi
BLE and WiFi radios exist in most new smartphones, so this is a low cost solution and ideal for residential applications. Dedicated 9-1-1 beacons can provide highly accurate and manageable dispatchable locations. An attractive feature of this option is that BLE beacon or WiFi addresses can be stored in the National Emergency Address Database (NEAD) and passed to the PSAP at the time of the call.
Handset Assisted Indoor Location – Location Fusion
We are excited about a development in wireless 9-1-1 that would be forward-compatible with any new smart device enhancements. Intrado is now testing the ability of smartphones to sense satellite signals along with nearby WiFi access points and BLE beacon locations to narrow the location for callers using enabled devices. This solution blends location technologies (such as commercial location detection used by retail stores) in a secure, always-on mode. Implementation of this technology could potentially support VoIP, Voice over Wireless LAN, VoLTE, and CDMA/UMTS voice.
There isn’t currently a single, standalone technology that meets all of the requirements of the new FCC rules. The future of location accuracy depends on the convergence of a several technologies working in tandem to deliver a physical address.
To learn more about the FCC’s ruling and the technologies outlined here, view our recent Wireless Location Accuracy webinar here.