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FCC Data Show 9-1-1 Location Failures In Oregon

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Tuesday, December 10th 2013
| Washington, DC


Nearly Half of 9-1-1 Calls From Cell Phones in Oregon Delivered Without Accurate Location Information; Accuracy Falling Over Time

A new analysis of data released by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) shows that nearly half of all calls received by 9-1-1 emergency centers in Oregon from wireless phones in June 2013 did not include the accurate location information necessary to find a caller in crisis.  The problem has worsened over the last three years, as the percent lacking the information has risen from 36.5% of all wireless calls in October 2010 to 45.8% in June 2013.

 

Graph1

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. Unfortunately, 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 nearly half of wireless callers in Oregon, 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.”

Statewide data released by the FCC found that 46,660 – or 45.8% - of the 101,787 wireless calls received in June 2013 lacked accurate “Phase II” location information which displays the location of the caller, despite FCC regulations requiring accurate location data to be provided for 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 increased number of wireless 9-1-1 calls received in the state during recent years.

Graph2

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

Some have tried to blame this problem on 9-1-1 operators for not ‘rebidding’ to request more accurate location information, but that is not fair to our 9-1-1 professionals,” continued Barnett. “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.  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."

 

The Oregon data follows the release of similar findings from California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Utah, and North Carolina, and it points to a growing national problem in 9-1-1 location accuracy.

 

About the Find Me 911 Coalition

Find Me 911 is an effort supported by more than 155,000 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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