New Data Show More Than 2/3 OF Texas 9-1-1 Calls From Cell Phones Delivered Without Location Information | Find Me 911

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New Data Show More Than 2/3 OF Texas 9-1-1 Calls From Cell Phones Delivered Without Location Information

Data Filed with FCC Shows More than 400K Calls Arrived Without Accurate Location Info in 2013, Huge Decline in Location Quality Since 2011

Washington, DC – November 7, 2013 – New data released by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) show that more than two-thirds of the calls to 9-1-1 emergency centers in Texas from wireless phones do not include the accurate location information necessary to find a caller in crisis.  The data, provided to the FCC by state and local 9-1-1 agencies, show an alarming drop in more accurate “Phase II” data in Texas from 67% of all wireless calls in January 2011 to just 33% in June 2013, despite a dramatic increase in cell phone calls over the same period.

TX-1

Source:  Federal Communications Commission, http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/phase-2-data-sets

“If you use a cell phone, you probably think that a 9-1-1 operator can find you if you call in an emergency.  In Texas, that assumption could be fatally flawed,” said Jamie Barnett, former Chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau and Director of the Find Me 911 Coalition. “For two-thirds of wireless callers in Texas, the emergency call arrived without accurate information on the caller’s location, putting lives at risk when callers don’t know or can’t share their location.  The FCC should take immediate action to ensure that all 9-1-1 callers can be immediately located in a crisis, whether indoors or outside, in a rural or urban setting.”

Texas statewide data released by the FCC found that 403,571 – or 67% - of the 601,106 wireless 9-1-1 calls received in June 2013 lacked accurate “Phase II” location information, despite FCC regulations requiring accurate location data to be provided with all calls.  In most cases, the 9-1-1 call center only received basic “Phase I” data showing the location of the cell tower from which the call originated, information of little use to emergency responders given the large area covered by each tower.

The data also highlighted the soaring number of wireless 9-1-1 calls received in the state over recent years.

TX-2

Source:  Federal Communications Commission, http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/phase-2-data-sets

In addition to the state-wide data, The FCC reported similar 9-1-1 problems for four localities in Texas: the Bexar Metro 911 Network District, Greater Harris County 911 Emergency District, Capital Area Emergency Communications District, and El Paso 911 Communications Center.  In all four cases, the data showed that a high percentage of calls lacked accurate location information.

Data from Harris County indicated that emergency centers were able to increase the percentage of Phase II responses by roughly 24% (from 63.7% to 88%) through automatic ‘rebidding’ to request the location information again from the carrier after at least 30 seconds.

The automatic rebid process, however, leaves significant public safety gaps.

  1. It contributes to misdirected calls, as incoming calls do not have the necessary location data to be routed to the appropriate emergency call center automatically.
  2. It leaves the operator blind to the location of any caller who is not able to stay on the line for at least 30 seconds.
  3. It delays lifesaving help while waiting for a rebid to get more accurate location information.

In addition, data released by carriers in California indicated that more than 20% of locations reported as Phase II during the rebid process are actually based on significantly less accurate technologies, potentially leading to false locations and misdirected emergency personnel.

"Some have tried to blame the 9-1-1 operators, but that is a diversion from the impact of these data, and it is not fair to the 9-1-1 professionals,” continued Barnett. “This cannot simply be chalked up to ‘rebidding’ to request location information again during the call. Emergency personnel need accurate location data as soon as a 9-1-1 call arrives, both to ensure that it is routed to the appropriate call center and to respond to the emergency, particularly if the call is cut off before a location can be given.”

“A 9-1-1 operator shouldn't have to wait and rebid and wait and rebid to hope they eventually get accurate location information, added Barnett. “This is a growing national crisis, and we urge the FCC and carriers to work with us to adopt indoor location requirements and solve this dangerous problem."

About the Find Me 911 Coalition

Find me 911 is an effort supported by more than 145,000 individuals, as well as national and local organizations. The individuals and organizations represent a broad range of 911 operators and first responders – emergency medical services personnel, fire fighters and police.  Find Me 911 seeks to ensure that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) move forward quickly to establish a reasonable, measurable level of location accuracy for emergency calls made indoors, enabling first responders to locate emergency calls from wireless phones from all locations rapidly and efficiently.

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