Based on information from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a national public safety coalition estimates that at least 190 lives could be saved each year in Maryland if cell phone carriers had to quickly share accurate location data for 9-1-1 callers with emergency responders. The FCC is considering a rule that would close a loophole and require cell phone carriers to implement technology to help find most indoor callers within the next two years.
“Lost time searching for 9-1-1 callers means lost lives,” said Jamie Barnett, Director of the Find Me 911 Coalition and former Chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.
She goes on to state that “based upon FCC estimates, we calculate that emergency responders could save hundreds of lives each year in Maryland. The FCC should move quickly to adopt the indoor location standards it proposed this spring and require cell phone carriers to recognize their responsibility to protect their customers and address this critical issue.”
Based upon statements by the FCC, the Find Me 911 Coalition, a coalition supported by more than 200,000 emergency responders and other safety advocates, estimates that in metropolitan areas across Maryland numerous lives could be saved if 9-1-1 operators are given the timely and accurate location data needed to find callers in crisis.
Metropolitan Area — Lives Saved Per Year
- Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD ~ 89
- Salisbury, D-DE ~ 12
- Hagerstown-Martinsburg, D-WV ~ 8
- California-Lexington Park, MD ~ 4
- Cumberland,MD- WV ~ 3
“Carriers often cannot provide accurate location data with the 911 call because GPS takes upwards of 30 seconds to work,” continued Barnett. “Worse, even after 30 seconds, the carriers’ GPS-based technology cannot reliably locate callers who are indoors, as the satellite signals may be blocked by the structure. The technology exists to address both issues while providing fast and accurate locations and the FCC’s proposed rule would make sure the carriers use it.”In a survey released earlier this year, Maryland 9-1-1 managers and operators shared personal stories about the challenges they face in accurately locating 9-1-1 callers on cell phones. Among those stories:
- Maryland 9-1-1 Operator A: I have a frantic concerned citizen from the 26th Street collapse that’s sending cars tumbling onto the railroad. Our call dropped and I tried calling back and was never able to reach her.
- Maryland 9-1-1 Operator B: A person was going into asthmatic shock. He was very confused and had no idea where he was. We could not get a good location and subsequently he died in his car and was found by a passerby the next day.
(Name and location redacted for privacy. Stories edited for length, spelling, and grammar.)
Keep in mind, the estimates not stories contained in this press release are derived from information and statements provided by the FCC’s rulemaking on wireless indoor location accuracy (FCC Proceeding 07-114).
FYI: Also keep in mind some 911 calls generate police reports. Nevertheless, in most states all police reports, except those that are classified as “exempt” (primarily in crimes of sexual assault), are available to the public. Any citizen can obtain a “non-exempt” police report by sending in a written request that includes the date, location, and type of incident date, with the full names of the parties involved.