Location Accuracy RFPs Expected Soon
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 | Comments

CTIA expects to issue two requests for proposals (RFPs) in the coming months to meet the FCC’s indoor location accuracy requirements established earlier this year.

Matthew Gerst, director of state regulatory and external affairs at CTIA, said the association plans to issue an RFP in the next couple weeks to find an entity to establish and operate a location accuracy test bed. The FCC rules require commercial carriers to establish an indoor location accuracy test bed within 12 months of the effective date of the rules, which was August 3.

“CMRS providers must validate technologies intended for indoor location, including dispatchable location technologies and technologies that deliver horizontal and/or vertical coordinates, through an independently administrated and transparent test bed process, in order for such technologies to be presumed to comply with the location accuracy requirements,” said the rules.

The test bed is required to include representative indoor environments in dense urban, urban, suburban and rural morphologies and must test for ground truth location accuracy, latency and reliability. The test bed initially will focus on testing existing location technologies before evaluating new technologies.

Gerst said CTIA expects the test bed to be established during the third quarter.

CTIA also plans to issue an RFP for a vendor or vendors to design and develop the National Emergency Address Database (NEAD), expected to provide dispatchable addresses to public-safety answering points (PSAPs) under the FCC’s rules. That RFP is expected to be released by the end of the year, said Gerst.

Carriers are also preparing to comply with rules that require them to report aggregate live 9-1-1 call location data, said Gerst. The first report is due 18 months from the effective date of the rules. Live test data must be supplied from San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver and the Front Range, Philadelphia and the Manhattan borough of New York City, according to the rules.

Gerst, speaking during a panel at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International show earlier this month, also provided an update on work the association is doing to help commercial carriers meet the FCC’s rules. The association has established seven working groups to focus on administrative, substantive, and education and outreach goals. Gerst said the working groups have garnered participation from a wide range of stakeholders, including vendors and the public-safety community.

“This is an aggressive timeline and an ambitious agenda,” said Gerst. “We’ve all agreed it’s the right path, but we’ve got work to do.”

CTIA’s administrative working group is focused on how to operationalize some of the major components of the FCC rules, including a team focused on how to set up the new test bed using the Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability (CSRIC) model, said Gerst. The administrative group also is looking at how to build the NEAD, developing a privacy plan and coordinating with the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) Emergency Location Task Force (ELOC), established in January to focus on location accuracy standards development.

CTIA’s substantive working group includes a z-axis team working on developing a plan to deliver uncompensated barometric pressure data to PSAPs and evaluating other technologies that provide z-axis location data. Another team is coordinating standards-related activities, including standards associated with the use of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth low energy (LE) for 9-1-1 calls, and standards for delivery of uncompensated barometric pressure data. The PSAP implementation team will assist PSAPs with deploying and implementing location accuracy data and technologies.

CTIA’s education and outreach working groups are tasked with educating stakeholders about technologies and progress related to indoor location accuracy initiatives. The outreach team is developing materials for stakeholder education, including promoting dispatchable location solutions and encouraging third parties to enter their beacons and hot spots into the NEAD.

A CTIA 9-1-1 Location Accuracy Advisory Group held its first meeting and plans to meet quarterly, said Gerst.

Location Demo
During the APCO conference and exhibition, Intrado staged a live demonstration of indoor location accuracy capabilities. The company installed 65 Bluetooth LE beacons around the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, including the show floor, session rooms, the ballroom and all main areas, said John Snapp, vice president and senior technical officer at Intrado.

Conference attendees downloaded the company’s E911Beacon iPhone application to test the location accuracy provided by the beacons. Users could push a button within the application to dial a simulated PSAP, which would read back the location of the calling device down to the room number.

“Bluetooth LE is exciting because it is being built into so many devices,” said Snapp. “A lot of people are doing a lot of development for commercial location, but they are not excited about 9-1-1. If we leverage what they are doing for commercial location, 9-1-1 becomes a user instead of an orphan. By making 9-1-1 a user, it is not necessarily the one that has to pay the bill for all of this.”

Snapp cautioned that while using commercial location data is a positive step forward, analytics and standard procedures will also be needed to interpret the data and use it most effectively.

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