West Corporation

Posted on September 27, 2018 by West Corporation 



The Top Priority for Wireless 911 Location Solutions

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:

Recorded Webinar: The Revolution of Wireless 9-1-1 Location Technologies: Better Location, Delivered Faster

Fact Sheet: Guide to Wireless 911 Location for PSAPs

Press Release: West Announces Results of Wireless 911 Location Trial with Google

One thought on “The Top Priority for Wireless 911 Location Solutions

  1. AvatarJonathan Hall

    I want better location in my PSAP, and I want it NOW. How many lives will be lost with unreliable network-based WPH2 location while West tests this to death? I strongly disagree with your veiled references to you-know-who. Please get that handset device location into our PSAP as soon as possible, if you can do it, as claimed.
    They have an i3-compliant NENA standards-based, Location Information Server (LIS) and Additional Data Repository (ADR), that is just as secure as any MPC or VPC you can spin up, and the “OTT” solution you reference permits PSAPs like mine to get enhanced device location NOW via CAD integration, without waiting for NG9-1-1 transition that’s being held up by inadequate funding from Washington DC.
    If West had established an LIS and ADR before you-know-who, you would be singing a different tune. There’s no reason West can’t provision an LIS and ADR and compete with them. I had great respect for your Intrado past, and have been impressed by West Safety and John Snapp’s blog & presentations. Please extol the virtues of West Safety’s products and services without mischaracterizing other players in the 9-1-1 space. CTIA and the big 4 carriers are hiding behind FCC regulation as an excuse for dragging their feet. PLEASE, push this technology out of your lab FAST and start using hybrid device location for the wireless 9-1-1 call routing you provide for the wireless service providers, I needed it yesterday.


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