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FCC Data Shows 9-1-1 Location Failures in North Carolina

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Tuesday, December 3rd 2013
| Washington, DC

FCC Data Shows 9-1-1 Location Failures in North Carolina

Nearly Half of 9-1-1- Calls from Cell Phones in State Delivered Without Accurate Location Information; Accuracy Falls Over Past Year

December 3, 2013 – 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 North Carolina 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 past year, as the percent of calls lacking such information has risen from 36% in June 2012 to 47% in June of this year.

“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 North Carolina, 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 and analyzed by the Find Me 911 Coalition found that 211,241 of the 447,918 wireless calls received in North Carolina 9-1-1 emergency centers 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.

“In my call center, not only do the majority of the wireless 9-1-1 calls that come in not include the location of the caller, but we frequently experience ‘false Phase IIs’ where the caller identifies where he or she is but the location displayed is completely different,” said Jason Barbour, 911 Director for Johnston County, North Carolina and past President of the National Emergency Number Association.  “This is misleading, unhelpful and delays critical response time.Our dispatchers, fire and police officers dedicate their lives to saving lives.  It is difficult, and even impossible, for us to be able to help those in need if we are unable to find them.”

The data showed a notable decline in location accuracy for 9-1-1 calls from wireless phones over the past year:

Source:  Federal Communications Commission,

"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 help route it 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."

About the Find Me 911 Coalition

Find Me 911is an effort supported by more than 150,000 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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