There’s a reason why the first question 911 call takers typically ask callers is, “Where is your emergency?” Quickly identifying a caller’s location is critical. It allows for rescue personnel to be dispatched rapidly to the scene of an emergency. Most 911 callers don’t realize how challenging it can be for dispatchers to determine their location. If calling from home, callers may assume 911 call takers already have the location information.
Of course, that’s not the case when the call is placed from a device other than a phone connected to a traditional landline. Compounding this issue is the fact that callers are not always able to provide accurate location information on their own. Therefore, it is important that Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) have access to reliable location data so they can send help to distressed callers quickly during emergencies.
911 Calls from Wireless Devices Are Harder to Locate
Many 911 callers now use wireless devices to contact 911. Since these devices are not tied to an address, they do not send the same valuable location data to 911 that traditional landlines provide. An Intrado survey of 1,018 consumers between the ages of 18 to 75 across the U.S. revealed that nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans are not aware that calling 911 from a cell phone makes it harder to determine their location.
It is not surprising that panicked callers are often frustrated or confused when they are immediately asked for their location before they are asked about their emergency and the type of help they are requesting. In fact, Intrado’s survey also revealed that 73 percent of consumers expect 911 call takers to be able to locate them with the same speed and accuracy, regardless of which device they use to call 911. There is a need for improving public awareness with 911 and, most importantly, for device manufacturers to implement better 911 location technology.
A Cell Phone is the 911 Calling Device of Choice
According to Intrado’s survey, 92 percent of adults said they would be likely to call 911 using a cell phone if they had an emergency at home, whereas only 28 percent said they would be likely to use a landline to contact 911. Additionally, many households no longer have a landline. In some instances, it is safer to use a cell phone to call 911. For example, in the event of a house fire, cell phones are a safer option to call 911 when residents need to escape to safety, rather than stay in the home to use their landline phone to call for help.
At home, most callers choose cell phones to call 911.
92% of adults reported being likely to use a cell phone.
Only 28% of adults reported being likely to use a landline.
Solving 911 Location Challenges
Intrado is helping lead the charge to solve 911 location challenges. It is working to ensure that the wireless devices and technologies Americans are using most have the ability to both connect to 911 and transmit precise location information. Intrado’s interfaces allow any device, application, or service to be connected to 911 with a simple plug-in to Intrado’s 911 network. Additionally, Intrado is partnering with stakeholders, from wireless carriers to handset manufacturers, to support the delivery of critical emergency location data to 911 call centers.
For a more detailed look at 911 location challenges across different settings and emergencies, download Solving 911 Location Challenges at Home, School, Work and Beyond.