Indoor 9-1-1 Location Accuracy Test Bed Begins in San Francisco, Atlanta
Friday, August 12, 2016 | Comments
Testing at the recently established indoor 9-1-1 location accuracy test bed is underway, a CTIA official said.

“Right now everything is on schedule,” said John Marinho, vice president of technology and cybersecurity for CTIA. The test bed is an independent entity established by CTIA.

Stage one testing, consisting of testing on existing equipment and technology used on the networks of the four national carriers, is ongoing in San Francisco and Atlanta. The test bed Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) looked at several cities but chose Atlanta and San Francisco for several reasons, including access to buildings that fit the morphologies described by the FCC’s indoor 9-1-1 location accuracy rules and methodologies from the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) Emergency Services Interconnection Forum (ESIF) emergency services and Methodologies (ESM) subcommittee. ATIS is the test bed program manager.

Finding areas with access to buildings that fit the criteria was one of the biggest challenges the test bed faced in setting up, Marinho said. The test bed needed buildings located in dense urban, urban, suburban and rural areas; included a variety of configurations, such as high rise, mid level and strip mall; and were composed of a variety of construction materials, among other requirements.

Stage two of testing will shift away from testing existing technologies to testing new technologies. That testing will begin immediately after the completion of stage one, hopefully in the fourth quarter, Marinho said.

The TAC released a solicitation seeking new technologies to test in the second stage of the project. While Marinho couldn’t go into about details of the technologies because of the ongoing evaluation process, he said that the submissions have been interesting and creative.

“It was a very robust response,” he said. “We got some very creative responses. We’re looking forward to having very robust testing in stage two.”

The second stage of testing will also take place in San Francisco and Atlanta to ensure fairness and consistency between the two phases of testing, Marinho said. Consistency and objectivity is a key goal of both the test bed process and the ATIS methodologies that it follows.

“Everyone is attempting to move forward as one,” said ESM Co-Chair Kelly Springer of AT&T. “We try to leave politics out of the room.”

The subcommittee is composed of representatives from the four major wireless carriers, public-safety stakeholders such as the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International and solutions providers.

There has been a lot of cooperation between the ESM and the TAC, partly because several members of the subcommittee are also participants in the testing, Springer said. For example, if the test bed runs into a challenge or technology it’s not sure how to address, it will reach out to the ESM for recommendations.

In June, the ESM finished and released a methodology for the test bed and monitoring regions. It is working on a methodology for vertical testing, as well as developing morphologies for the six performance areas — San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Philadelphia and the Manhattan borough of New York City — that the FCC highlighted in its rules on indoor location accuracy.

The test bed has received an outline of the vertical testing methodology, but the ESM is waiting to finalize that standard until it receives some test results from the test bed, Springer said. That will allow the ESM to understand some of the challenges and obstacles the test bed is facing and to tweak the methodology accordingly.

The ESM generally tries to focus on a primary issue for a year, but other ideas and questions that need to be addressed tend to pop up during the discussion process, Springer said. “As always, when you get a lot of smart people in one room, you get a lot of ‘What ifs?’.”

The subcommittee makes note of these possible scenarios that should be considered at some point, Springer said. When the ESM finishes one topic, it considers whether there is a critical issue on the table that needs to be addressed or if it should tackle one of the scenarios on the list.

Topics the subcommittee intends to tackle soon include testing the National Emergency Address Database (NEAD), Bluetooth sensors and the hybridization of crowdsourcing, Springer said.

As for the test bed, the TAC is planning for 2017 and beyond. While there is no scheduled testing beyond stage two yet, there will likely be additional testing because of the response the committee has received for new technologies, Marinho said.

“There’s a lot of creativity and imagination in this area, and we want to explore it all,” he said.

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