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NENA Conference and MCP's MAPS Program Will Help Prepare You for What's Coming

Posted on June 7, 2019 by Dave Sehnert

After taking a look at the breakout sessions scheduled for the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) trade show and conference—which will be held June 14-19 in Orlando—a clear theme immediately emerged: preparing the nation’s 911 centers for what’s coming next.

And there’s a lot coming. 

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Cautious Optimism Surrounds CTIA Announcement Regarding Improving 911 Location Accuracy

Posted on September 10, 2018 by Dave Sehnert

Last week was a great week for public safety—at least we think it was. Let me explain.

CTIA, the trade association that represents wireless communications carriers, announced that the four largest nationwide wireless carriers in the United States—AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon—will integrate device-based hybrid (DBH) location solutions into their networks. DBH technology has evolved rapidly, and trials have shown that they deliver location information much faster and much more accurately than the Wireless Phase II data delivered by the location technologies currently employed by the carriers.

To date in the United States, device-based hybrid location technology comes in two flavors: Hybridized Emergency Location (HELO) developed for Apple’s iPhone operating system and Emergency Location Service (ELS) developed for Google’s Android OS. Both technologies aggregate numerous data sources—e.g., the Global Positioning System (GPS), Bluetooth beacons, Wi-Fi hotspots, data from mapping/navigation applications, and activity-based apps—to deliver more-accurate location data, particularly indoors, for 911 calls made from smartphones.

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Leveraging Social Media Data in Charleston County, SC

Posted on July 20, 2018 by Dave Sehnert

Recent history has shown that, when 911 becomes overwhelmed, citizens turn to social media in an effort to have their pleas for help heard.

Last fall, Texans trapped in homes flooded by Hurricane Harvey used the social radio network app Zello to contact the volunteer Cajun Navy fleet and posted their addresses on Facebook and Twitter to aide emergency medical services in locating them. After a 7.1 magnitude earthquake collapsed buildings in Mexico City, volunteers used WhatsApp to recruit and mobilize informal search and rescue teams before the army, navy and civil protection units were mobilized. When wild fires destroyed parts of California over the course of several months, many turned to social media to plead for help locating missing loved ones and to mark themselves as “safe” using Facebook’s Crisis Response feature when they could not reach friends and relatives.

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Five Takeaways from the 2018 NENA Conference

Posted on June 29, 2018 by Dave Sehnert

The 2018 NENA Conference may have been the best yet. Combine Nashville, thousands of emergency communications professionals sharing ideas and experiences, and more than ninety hours of breakout sessions and you have the framework for true movement in the industry.

And we did have movement.

iOS 12 will help save time and lives: By far the hottest topic was the national headline-generating announcement from Apple and RapidSOS.  Apple’s new iOS 12 – launching later this year – will automatically and securely share its HELO location data via the RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse. HELO is Apple’s Hybridized Emergency Location application which estimates a mobile 911 caller’s location using cell towers and on-device data sources like GPS and WIFI Access Points.

The move opens up accurate location data for 911 callers who are among the 85 million iPhone users in the U.S. – nearly 43% of the total smartphone market. The step is a significant one and one that MCP believes will result in faster and more accurate information to help reduce emergency response times once available to PSAPs.

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Topics: Industry News, 911

MCP Urges FCC to Promote Uniform Adoption of Location-Based Routing Technologies

Posted on May 17, 2018 by Dave Sehnert

On March 22, 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a notice of inquiry about how to route 911 calls to the proper call center faster and what the public should expect when calling 911 from a wireless device.

911 centers continue to struggle with location accuracy. The problem has been the subject of intense media scrutiny of late. The key question: why smartphone applications provide better location information than that received by 911 centers.

This negative media attention is well-warranted. Emergency call misroutes occur in great volumes across the U.S. every day. Misroutes, or misrouted calls, are 911 calls that are received by one PSAP and then transferred to another. However, it is important to note that the “misroutes” that are the subject of the FCC's recent inquiry mostly result from current 911 call routing mechanisms that rely on a cell tower location working as designed, not from technical failure of those mechanisms.

MCP has witnessed this firsthand in two states where we have conducted wireless integrity testing. In one county, we witnessed an astonishing error rate—38 percent of all test calls were misrouted. With wireless devices generating 80 percent of 911 calls across the nation, with some states experiencing up to 90 percent, emergency call misroutes literally are a life-and-death problem.

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