The Location of the Caller Can Be Traced Instantly With This New Technology
Have you watched those English spy movies where the protagonist overcomes all kinds of challenges using advanced technologies that nobody has ever seen in real life? We all have. An invisible car or a laser-shooting watch might have been a bit too much, but smartwatches and GPS tracking are now a reality. In fact, we now have a technology that can pinpoint the location of a cell phone caller in an instant.
The Sheriff’s office in Monmouth County is now installing a new technology that supposedly provides fast and accurate device location data for 911 calls that are made using a cellphone. Apparently, the location of the callers was not easy to trace if the emergency service provider did not have an exact address or made the call using a cell phone. This technology can help the authorities to respond fast in case of an emergency.
Why 911 call centers struggled to locate cell phone callers?
Most 911 call centers are equipped with the technology to locate the landline callers, but when it comes to finding the exact location of the cell phone users, those centers struggle badly. According to Google’s global evangelist for Android Emergency Location Service (ELS)Fiona Lee, the 911 system was designed a long time ago, keeping the landlines in mind.
If the caller is outdoors, which is the case for most of the 911 calls made through a cell phone, the system uses the phone’s GPS to track the location of the caller. When the GPS chip connects with satellites or with a cell tower, the 911 operator can only know the latitude and longitude of the caller, that too within 164 feet of the actual location of the caller. When the caller is in a building, it gets difficult for the satellites to connect, throwing off the caller’s location by several hundred feet.
How can this technology facilitate better location tracking?
Google recently wrapped the pilot study of the Android ELS, which will work as a supplemental service to send caller location directly to emergency services from the Android handsets every time a person calls 911. The test involved fifty 911 call centers from Texas, Tennessee and Florida, covering nearly 2.4 million people.
Google joined hands with West Corporation and RapidSOS for this initiative. West Corporation is a provider of communication and network infrastructure services, while RapidSOS works towards making 911 services more responsive to assist the public safety call centers.
The ELS relies on centralized infrastructure (an endpoint) that is capable of receiving emergency location, either over HTTPS or Data SMS, and relays the information to the call centers, which uses the information into their call/dispatch workflow assignment help.
According to Fiona Lee, the Android ELS is far removed from an app. It does not require hardware or software. It only assists the mobile operators, emergency infrastructure providers and the government authorities by delivering more accurate location data to the first responders during an event of an emergency.
The ELS is activated every time a person calls 911. It enables the first responders to find and help the caller without delay. This ELS feature is a part of the Android operating system. Lee claims that even if the caller has the location application closed on his/her phone, the phone will automatically activate the feature during a 911 call.
Application of the technology
Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, the UK and New Zealand are among the first few countries where Google has successfully deployed ELS in 2017. As per the European Emergency Number Association, more countries have shown interest in deploying ELS to improve their emergency services in 2019 and beyond.
On the other hand, the Sherriff’s office in Monmouth County is solely relying on RapidSOS to receive fast and accurate caller location information during 911 calls placed from not just an Android phone but also from an iPhone with iOS 12. According to Sherriff Shaun Golden, every second counts when it comes to a 911 call and the implementation of the technology at the 911 communications center will ensure utmost safety during an emergency.
911 Director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, Christy Williams told in a statement that she has seen this technology in action and the calls would come to their native screens with a bull’s eye around the location. She also expressedher satisfaction about the initial results as the ELS technology also helped to determine which entrance to use and which building in the compound to go to.
There was a point when people were frustrated with the 911 services as they struggled to find the accurate location of the caller. In fact, the 911 services were slammed on the point that if Uber could learn the exact location of the user, why the emergency services could not do the same.
During the pilot study, where several dozen call centers from the North Central Texas Council of Governments took part, 70 percent of the calls were traced back to the location of the caller almost immediately. Williams said that this is just the beginning and the demonstration only shows what is in store for emergency services.
Here’s what the future holds for this technology
According to Google’s global evangelist for ELS, Fiona Lee, Google is looking for partners to deploy ELS across the United States. Interestingly, the cost of deploying this service is minimal. It involves a nominal capital expenditure.
Typically, the process to implement ELS can range from two to fifteen weeks, and depends on the available resources and the technical proficiency. Google usually prefers to work with its partners in this project to verify performance benchmarks and progress. However, the ELS partners make the decision about when the technology is ready to move from one stage of deployment to the next one.
As of now, Google is planning to offer 911 textingfacility that will add to the endeavors that prioritize the safety of the citizens.