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Google and T-Mobile Improving 911 Call Location Accuracy

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Sep 19, 2018, 9:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   @zeman_e

Google and T-Mobile are working together to ensure that T-Mobile customers' location is more accurately pinpointed when calling 911 emergency services. About 80% of the annual 240 million 911 calls in the U.S. are made via cell phones. Where landlines can point to an exact address for emergency services, cell phones often provide only a general location that can be off by hundreds of feet. Google and T-Mobile have been looking to solve this problem for four years. Moving forward, Android devices running on T-Mobile's network will use the RapidSOS system. RapidSOS's internet protocol-based pipeline can share location data with 911 centers quickly and securely. This newer system integrates with 911 centers' existing software to more finely pinpoint location. This user location data cannot be used for non-emergency purposes and 911 centers will only have access to location during 911 emergency calls. RapidSOS is operating in about 1,000 of the country's 5,700 911 call centers. RapidSOS is available to all 911 centers, though there's no word on when the rest will adopt it. By law, wireless network operators are required to locate callers within 50 meters 80% of the time, but not until 2021. Google and T-Mobile claim RapidSOS reduces the average location radius from more than 500 feet down to 122 feet. This is within the range mandated by the FCC. Apple adopted RapidSOS with the release of iOS 12, allowing iPhones to provide similarly accurate location data to 911 call centers.

more info at Wall Street Journal »

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