05 Jun What Every Woman Ought To Know About Calling 911 From Her Cell Phone In An Emergency
Imagine this… You’re out on your early evening jog, following the same route you always do. After all, it feels safer to stick to the streets you’re familiar with – in case something should happen.
Although you had that nagging feeling that something was off, you ignore your intuition and continue jogging. Suddenly out of nowhere, you’re faced with your worst nightmare. And find yourself in a dangerous situation.
Trembling in a state of fright, you fumble for your phone and manage to press 911 on your keypad. Which seems to take an eternity to press those three digits on your phone.
The operator answers: “911 please state your location.”
You look around at your familiar surrounds, you know you’re a few blocks from ‘somewhere’, you just don’t know exactly where.
“Ma’am, please state the address of your emergency, the operator asks again.”
Suddenly it dawns on you…
You have absolutely no friggin’ clue what your exact location is. Add to the fact that when you are terrified or in shock, you’re barely able to state your own name.
Desperate and ready to scream, you repeatedly try and tell the operator where you ‘think’ you are…
911 Please Hurry! Why Can’t You Just Find Me From My Cell Phone?
But wait a minute, shouldn’t 911 be able to locate me from my cell?
If you thought this, you’re not alone. In fact, out of over 1000 participants in Find Me 911’s survey, nearly two thirds thought 911 could use their cell phone to find them if necessary. That’s a pretty scary realization, isn’t it?!
The truth is, the current 911 system was set up to locate calls from a landline, based on the billing address you provided to your phone company. It was never built to locate wireless phones.
According to the Wall Street journal, “While newer technology provides more accurate location data, it actually takes longer to find you. Dispatchers typically receive location data in 2 stages”:
The first being the cell tower that the phone is using, which typically covers a huge area. On top of this, your phone doesn’t always connect to the cell tower closest to your location.
The second stage comes from GPS technology, which is much more accurate outdoors, but takes roughly 15 to 30 seconds before it is available to dispatchers, a big delay given that many 911 operators try to dispatch responders within 60 seconds.
So if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to call 911 from your mobile phone, there are some important facts you need to know. We know facts are dry and aren’t much fun to read, but they could save your life someday.
- Fact 1. Under phase 2 E911 rules, the Federal Communications Commission only requires wireless companies to be able to accurately locate you to within 50 – 300 meters ‘outdoors’. That’s about as accurate as emergency responders locating you up to 3 entire football fields away from where you actually are!
- Fact 2. Outdated technology means locating you can take minutes. When in an emergency, every second counts.
- Fact 3. Due to the nature of how cell towers communicate, they can get overwhelmed and rout your call through the next available tower. So in many cases , you may be located as being miles away from your actual location!
While the location of the cell site closest to the 911 caller may provide a general indication of the caller’s location, that information is not always specific enough for rescue personnel to deliver assistance to the caller quickly. - FCC
If You’re Calling 911 From An Indoor Location, It Get’s Even Worse…
As a woman, you know when something feels off.
Sometimes it’s an intuitive feeling that there’s something up with the stranger walking towards you. Other times it’s an unexplainable inner knowing that it’s not ok for me to walk to the parking lot alone.
Or something about the creepy way my date stared at me, before he suggested we move to a quieter location.
Or come to think of it, I think I noticed that guy watching me out of the corner of my eye earlier in the day.
Why is this important? Because many of these situations happen inside parking lots, apartments or office buildings.
So if you ever end up in a situation where you need to call 911 from indoors & aren’t able to state your exact location, now you’re really in trouble…
- Fact 1. The Federal Communications Commission doesn’t require phone companies to be able to locate you indoors. So if you end up in a situation where you are unable to speak – you’re going to need a lot of luck.
- Fact 2. The FCC doesn’t require wireless companies to submit ‘initial plans’ for implementing indoor location accuracy until 2017.
- Fact 3. Companies are not required to provide an accurate indoor location for 70% of wireless calls until 2020.
There seems to be a general assumption out there, that 911 technology is as advanced as the latest iphone 6 GPS location data, pinpointing you on a google map. Yet this is far from reality.
In the recent findme911.org survey, an overwhelming majority of people said they would be very, to extremely concerned, to learn that cell phone providers are not required to give accurate location information if you dial 911 from inside a building. This survey only further highlights the need for women to be aware of their exact location at all times – just in case…
As if women weren’t already hyper vigilant about where they park their cars, where they go jogging, whom they date & where they walk their dogs!
You can read more about the FCC’s proposed indoor location accuracy timeline here.
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