Nationwide Carriers to Add Device-Based Hybrid Location for 9-1-1 This Year
Thursday, September 06, 2018 | Comments

CTIA announced that nationwide wireless providers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon are adding new location-based tools to existing wireless 9-1-1 location technologies this year.

By integrating device-based hybrid (DBH) location technology solutions — similar to those used by popular commercial services such as ride-sharing and navigation apps — the public-safety community can more accurately determine a wireless 9-1-1 caller’s location, particularly inside buildings, a CTIA statement said.

DBH solutions use a combination of technologies and sensors, including satellite GPS and crowd-sourced Wi-Fi measurements, that can supplement wireless providers’ existing 9-1-1 network and device-assisted information to produce a higher-accuracy location, particularly indoors.

“Dialing 9-1-1 is likely the most important call you ever make, and the wireless industry’s adoption of DBH technologies will make it easier for first responders to find you indoors more quickly and accurately,” said Tom Sawanobori, senior vice president and chief technology officer (CTO) of CTIA.

Almost 200 million 9-1-1 calls are made from mobile wireless handsets each year.

In addition to producing higher-quality indoor location information, DBH solutions for wireless 9-1-1 calls will be available where nationwide wireless providers offer service. The technology will be available with the most popular wireless operating systems, including Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, covering the majority of mobile wireless devices sold domestically.

Consumers will be able to use their existing DBH-capable mobile device with no special applications or user interactions to activate the technology when calling 9-1-1. The adoption of DBH solutions for wireless 9-1-1 calls will not require public-safety answering points (PSAPs) to install new equipment or software, interface to new location service providers, or incur additional costs.

The 9-1-1 Location Technologies Test Bed is a testing environment for new technologies that are designed improve indoor 9-1-1 location accuracy. DBH solutions have produced a reliable and accurate horizontal location in various types of buildings and across all morphologies during testing in the test bed, CTIA said.

CTIA also leads the National Emergency Address Database (NEAD), which will contain the verified street addresses of commercially deployed Wi-Fi access points and Bluetooth beacons. “When combined with DBH solutions, the NEAD will further enhance wireless providers’ ability to provide emergency call centers with a dispatchable location for the 9-1-1 caller — recognized as the preferred data for indoor 9-1-1 location information by the public-safety community,” CTIA said.

In a report released last month, CTIA said determining the altitude of a 9-1-1 caller is proving difficult with the report concluding that significant questions remain about the performance and scalability of Z-axis technology — which could locate a caller in a high-rise for example — for live 9-1-1 call environments.

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