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Wireless E911: Public Safety's Phantom Menace

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 26 Issue: 10 Dated: October 1999 Pages: 62-64,66,68,70
Donna Rogers
Date Published
October 1999
6 pages
This article discusses the problems and the promise in developing location technologies for cell-phone 911 calls.
Every day 85,000 cellular users dial 911. Thirty percent of these emergency callers do not know their specific location. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has mandated that by October 2001, wireless 911 calls must be pinpointed within 410 feet in at least two-thirds of all cases. The majority of geolocation technologies deployed today can locate a wireless 911 call within only several miles. Others are being tested now. Wireless E911 capability can be likened to "the Phantom Menace" of "Star Wars -- Episode I" because a jumble of technologies are being developed by a host of companies. Lots of technologies will spawn advances, and hybrids are proliferating. This is progress, but it also leads to much discussion and lots of confusion. This article identifies and explains the various technologies being used and developed to make the determination of cell-phone call locations more precise. The problems and promise of these various technologies are addressed.