Some 911 Calls on VZW Aren't Getting Through & Location Information Isn't Always Accurate

Discussion in 'Android News' started by dgstorm, Aug 27, 2014.

  1. dgstorm

    dgstorm Editor in Chief
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    Here's a disturbing bit of news that some of us may not have been aware of. Apparently, the wireless carriers in the US are not very good at handling 911 location information in emergencies. Furthermore, some carriers even have issues making sure 911 calls get through to emergency dispatchers at all.

    Verizon is the most notable example as they have had the hardest time with this issue. In fact, recently Brunswick police in Maine have alerted residents that wireless calls to 911 emergency services on Verizon's network are not even getting through. They are urging residents to use a different carrier's phone or a physical landline (as if every emergency situation would allow for that possibility).

    Apparently, this has been an ongoing issue between the FCC and some of the carriers, especially Verizon. Big Red claims the technology is unavailable for them to implement more accurate 911 location information. According to the source of this article, the truth is that the technology does exist, but Verizon is simply refusing to implement it due to the upgrade costs. Here's a quote from the report,

    While we are not able to make a judgment on all aspects of this case just yet, the fact that there is an ongoing fight between the FCC and Verizon regarding this issue is worrisome at the very least. It's also terrifying to think that customers in Brunswick, Maine can't rely on their own cell phones to get through to 911 emergency services. It makes you wonder where else in the country Verizon's "flawless" network might have random problems with 911 services.

    If you know more about this issue, please share in the thread below. The picture above comes from the Find Me 911 Coalition who are trying to bring this important issue to the foreground of public discussion.

    Thanks to @CJM for the tip!

    Source: AndroidAuthority
     
  2. Narsil

    Narsil Silver Member

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    So my phone knows whether I'm in the Tijuana Flats in the strip mall rather than the Jimmy John's next door but Big Red somehow can't transmit that data to the 911 center??

    I've never actually used Verizon's Navigator app but I'm guessing Verizon has a pretty spankin' good idea exactly where my phone is at any given moment. There is zero excuse for that info not being available to the 911 operator.

    I'd bet a lot of money if Verizon wanted to find my phone, they'd have no problem finding it anytime they wanted.
     
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  3. Sydman

    Sydman Premium Member
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    I was a police dispatcher for 5 years, and I can attest none of the carriers will get an exact location. From what I remember At&t was the best, but even then the most accurate we got was maybe the block range of the street they were on.

    If you were in trouble and in an apartment complex, or big office center, sorry for you. Surely they can do better, Google can tell me where I parked my car, but they can't grab my location when I call 911?

    The problem is, and I am guessing, they still rely on triangulation of the cell towers. It takes the the 3 towers around you and creates a circle that (hopefully) gets increasingly smaller as the call goes on.

    As a 911 call taker, we have the option to keep trying to triangulate your location, but there is a 10 second wait each time on the system. Course, this was back in 2010, so things could have changed a bit, but I am guessing not that much.

    Let alone how much trouble we had to go through if we needed to contact the cell provider for calls that got disconnected and we couldn't reach the caller. Practically need a court order just to get them to try and ping the phone for an updated location. Sad really, terrible story indeed, can only hope change comes from it so it is not all in vain.
     
    #3 Sydman, Aug 27, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014
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  4. 94lt1

    94lt1 Super Moderator
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    Vzw still relies heavily on triangulation.
     
  5. jplemt

    jplemt Active Member

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    This also relies on the 911 center having the capability of interpreting the location data. Some areas the 911 dispatcher still doesn't even get a number of the phone calling. They just get a ring and answer it. So it's not just the carriers.
     
  6. zinethar

    zinethar Senior Member

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    Wow. The date on the example is 5 years old so I wonder if it matters if it is a smart phone or dumb one and if Lte where available is any better. It would seem on a smart phone the phone should send 911 gps data. The info is on a smart phone so sending it should be possible although I'm not sure about elevation data for an apartment building. I tested that while geocaching and got to the corner of a parking garage but it had no idea what level was needed.
     
  7. Sydman

    Sydman Premium Member
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    That is the problem, they don't send GPS data when calling, they rely on triangulation from the cell towers. We had plenty of people calling from smart phones back when I was working, and their location data was no better. I know this because I was part of the group that tested the new equipment given to us by At&t at the time. I was using a Droid X, and the best I could get was around 30 meters.
     
  8. tech_head

    tech_head Silver Member

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    THis is why, if you are at home you still need a land line.
    Calling 911 from a cell could me life, or possibly death!
     
  9. RyanPm40

    RyanPm40 Active Member

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    Well, I would hopefully assume you would know your home address to give the 911 Operator ;)
     
  10. combatmedic870

    combatmedic870 Senior Member

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    I got into a car accident last year. I was hurt....I had an iphone 5 and called 911 could breath due to the seat belt jacking me up and the air bag knocking the wind out of me and my head injury. They ask me where I was and I said I need help send paramedics. I'm hurt. Where am I they ask. I'm on highway 84, send paramedics. I look over at my girl and she was in bad shape, my door wouldnt open. I crawled over her and carried her out as my SUV caught fire. Noone would stop on the highway. After 2-3 minutes I went back and got my phone. They were still on it. I asked have you sent the paramedics to me. No sir I don't know where you are. So I walked until I seen a mile maker and they told me that I wasn't in their area and to hold. So I held for 3 mins finally got transferred. Told them what happened. Then they ask....are you sure you want a paramedic? We can send a tow truck to you. YES I WANT A PARAMEDICS I AM HURT YOU ***†****************************************!!!! Lets just said I had some choice words for them as I come back to my girl that's bloody and laying on the ground with a broken nose, head wound and broken ribs and a laceration(required 27 sutures not counting the sub q) on her thigh.

    That's my great story about 911 and the first time I've ever called them...ever..... Then them not being able to find my location....shoulda got OnStar....
     
    #10 combatmedic870, Aug 28, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014
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  11. combatmedic870

    combatmedic870 Senior Member

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    What if you cannot talk. You call 911 and the phone is taken from you. On a land line if you call 911 and the phone hangs up, they will call back if there is no answer they send people.
     
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