9-1-1 Indoor Location Technology and Policy

Sep 05, 2013

9-1-1 Indoor Location Technology and Policy

The past year witnessed many natural disasters in the United States, such as the unnamed June 2012 mid-Atlantic storm, and Hurricane Sandy, which devastated parts of New York and New Jersey. These disasters have underscored the vulnerability of our nation’s 911 emergency response infrastructure. In the cases of both disasters, power failures rendered access to and monitoring of call centers impossible. And while the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) response has rightly focused on the basic need to keep the 911 system up and running despite power failures, the Commission has also used this as an opportunity to accelerate its implementation of a next-generation 911 (NG911) system that planners believe will broaden access beyond landline and basic voice usage to incorporate the text and multimedia messaging that are in widespread usage due to the increased penetration of Smartphones and tablets. Central to all this is location – the ability of first responders to quickly determine a caller’s location and dispatch emergency services to help them.

High-accuracy location, already part of the public safety infrastructure, could be better integrated to provide detailed intelligence for both first responders and emergency callers. For example, when texting 911, similar emergency calls in a given radius could be identified to alert authorities to larger emergencies, such as a terrorist attack or natural disaster. Transmitting a geo-tagged photo could help emergency responders locate someone in a crowded sports stadium or shopping mall. And indoor location, which the RF Pattern Matching geo-location method uniquely enables as a software-only solution, is vital in the example of a mass shooting, such as at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in July 2012, where victims were huddled under seats in the depths of the building, away from GPS signals.

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