Loading...

FCC Plans to Address 911 Location Issues

June 9, 2022 by Madeline Hughes
FCC Plans to Address 911 Location Issues
(Photo/Arlington County Emergency Communications Center)

WASHINGTON — North Carolina is in the process of implementing its newest 911 technology that will connect callers to emergency call centers “almost immediately — when a caller takes their finger off the last one it is ringing,” said L.V. Pokey Harris the executive director of the North Carolina 911 Board.

Of the state’s 127 call centers, 124 now have the internet-based Emergency Services IP Network technology that provides dispatchers with near exact locations of callers with the last three centers expected to be equipped sometime this fall, she said during a phone interview with The Well News Wednesday. 

While North Carolina is on the forefront of this update to its 911 systems, the Federal Communications Commission is working to expand this technology across the country. The four members of the commission voted unanimously Wednesday, at the FCC’s open meeting, to update a 2018 study that looked into the location-based routing that would more easily pair callers with their closest dispatch center and “Next Generation” 911 technology. Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel proposed federal funding for these upgrades.

During the meeting, Rosenworcel recalled visiting Little Rock, Arkansas, where she learned if a call came in from a specific corner of the city it would be rerouted to a call center in North Little Rock on the other side of the river. That’s because current technology routes 911 calls from cell phones to the dispatch center closest to the cell tower, she explained.

“That’s a problem.  Because when you make a 911 call, seconds matter, 911 calls that are routed to the wrong call center need to be rerouted to the right one. That takes time you may not have,” Rosenworcel said.

As of 2021, 80% of 911 callers use their cell phones, according to the National Emergency Number Association.

The commission’s involvement in these issues is important for the states that haven’t made the switch, like New York.

It’s a very expensive process to switch from the copper wire analog system to a totally digital system, said Marc Kasprzak, president of the New York State 911 Coordinators Association and director of emergency communications of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office.

“There’s always been that joke that Dominos can find me, but 911 can’t,” Kasprzak said during a phone interview Wednesday.

He explained that third-party services often provide the location data to dispatchers not using the most up-to-date technology. And sometimes, those third-party services get it wrong, especially if someone is using an older phone, he said.

“Typically, older people who may need the most help have the older phones, which aren’t as reliable,” Kasprzak said. So, updating the system would help the most vulnerable, he said.

The state was planning its update to the 911 system before COVID hit, and it had to be placed on the backburner, he said. They are renewing that process, he said.

Overall, “good location info being delivered with the call is important, especially for those callers who cannot talk or who do not know where they are,” he said.

An estimated 6,000 call centers across the country don’t have this new technology, Rosenworcel said.

Typically, 911 services are paid for on a local and state level, however, Rosenworcel wants federal funding for these programs.

“That’s why I’ve suggested we should put our public airwaves to a broader public purpose in support of next-generation 911,” she said.

In 2021 the commission made $81 billion in one 5G spectrum auction. And there’s been more auctions since, with another auction planned for July, Rosenworcel said Wednesday.

However, there needs to be legislation to continue these spectrum sales, which have been allowed since 1993.

Spectrum sales have allowed public use of government airwaves for technology including 5G. And recently the commission took steps to better regulate spectrum receivers, allowing more airwaves to potentially open for sale. 

“We should work with Congress and public safety officials to use the billions of dollars that FCC spectrum auctions raise to build the public infrastructure this country needs, starting with using future auction revenues to fund the nation’s transition to next-generation 911,” Rosenworcel said.

“I think this is a golden opportunity. It would benefit public safety nationwide—and every one of us who dials 911 when the unthinkable occurs.,” she said. “In short, we can have an updated public emergency calling system that is built for the digital age, and we can use public airwaves to do it.”

Madeline can be reached at maddie@thewellnews.com

In The News

Health

Voting

Emergency Management

October 21, 2022
by Dan McCue
Bipartisan PAW Act to Protect Animals Impacted by Disaster, Signed Into Law

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan Planning for Animal Wellness Act into law this week, garnering praise from... Read More

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan Planning for Animal Wellness Act into law this week, garnering praise from animal rights advocates who’ve argued for years that federal guidance on best practices to protect animals in emergencies and disasters is long overdue. “By enacting the... Read More

October 1, 2022
by Dan McCue
Election Uncertainty Abounds as Florida Cleans Up From Hurricane Ian’s Fury

TALLAHASSEE — Hurricane Ian’s march through Florida and the Caribbean left at least 35 people dead in the Sunshine State,... Read More

TALLAHASSEE — Hurricane Ian’s march through Florida and the Caribbean left at least 35 people dead in the Sunshine State, along with another three in Cuba, and caused anywhere from $66 billion to $75 billion in damage, depending on the estimate. But as the cleanup and... Read More

September 29, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
FCC Updates Emergency Alert System

WASHINGTON — As Hurricane Ian raged through Florida Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to make the emergency alerts... Read More

WASHINGTON — As Hurricane Ian raged through Florida Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to make the emergency alerts seen and heard on television, radio and through text messages easier to understand. “Climate change is making storms more frequent, more dangerous and more damaging. We... Read More

September 27, 2022
by Dan McCue
Army Corps Proposes $52B ‘Sea Gate’ Plan to Protect New York From Storm Surge

NEW YORK — As a major hurricane bears down on Florida, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is floating a... Read More

NEW YORK — As a major hurricane bears down on Florida, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is floating a $52 billion proposal to protect New York City and surrounding communities from the destructive storm surges associated with hurricanes and other significant storms. The Corps’ proposal,... Read More

June 10, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
California Utility Pleads Not Guilty to Manslaughter in Deadly Wildfire

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Pacific Gas & Electric pleaded not guilty Thursday to felony involuntary manslaughter charges after a Northern California... Read More

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Pacific Gas & Electric pleaded not guilty Thursday to felony involuntary manslaughter charges after a Northern California fire caused by its electrical transmission lines burned 87 square miles of land and killed four residents. Prosecutors acknowledge criminal charges are unusual against a public... Read More

June 9, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
FCC Plans to Address 911 Location Issues

WASHINGTON — North Carolina is in the process of implementing its newest 911 technology that will connect callers to emergency... Read More

WASHINGTON — North Carolina is in the process of implementing its newest 911 technology that will connect callers to emergency call centers “almost immediately — when a caller takes their finger off the last one it is ringing,” said L.V. Pokey Harris the executive director of... Read More

News From The Well