Unless you’ve been in a digital detox for most of 2018, you may have noticed an increase in industry buzz around wireless 911 location technology, particularly in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, CTIA announced that the nation’s top wireless providers are rolling out enhanced 911 location features this year, specifically device-based hybrid services. Mission Critical Partners (MCP), a leading 911 consulting firm, responded with additional advice for deployment of these technologies, including making the service “seamless and transparent” to both the 911 call taker and the 911 caller.
Seamless 911 Integration
We agree with MCP—first and foremost, enhanced location must pass through the existing 911 call flow in a way that requires no additional effort or decision by the call taker.
Because of the redundancies built into the carriers’ networks, they are the most stable, reliable and trusted path for any location determination solution. By integrating multiple location data sources into this architecture and comparing them against one another, we can reduce the chance for cybersecurity issues such as handset location spoofing.
New over-the-top (OTT) service providers entering the market have applied handset technologies without apparent concern for security, reliability or impact on PSAP workflows. By delivering location as supplemental data outside of the existing 911 call flow, these out-of-band solutions require call takers to evaluate in real-time which one of two (and often conflicting) locations they should use to dispatch first responders.
Out-of-band solutions by themselves are particularly vulnerable to spoofing which can alter the location of a mobile device before delivery to the PSAP.
Better 911 Wireless Location: 4 More Must-Haves
After 40 years of helping to build and advance our 911 systems alongside both carriers and PSAPs, West believes that any sustainable, reliable 911 solution must also:
- Minimize impact on resource-strapped PSAPs
- Align with industry standards and regulatory mandates
- Leverage every existing or future location data source
- Focus on the 911 caller
We’ll look at these last four requirements in future posts. In the meantime, we want to know what you think about the state of 911 location accuracy. Post your comments here or email us directly and tell us what you think.
Want to learn more? Check out these additional wireless 911 location resources:
Fact Sheet: Guide to Wireless 911 Location for PSAPs