First- It is important to remember that there can be three distinct issues involving wireless 9-1-1 calls :
Call Routing (Having the 9-1-1 call routed to the correct PSAP)
Enhanced Location Information (Phase II) Challenge
Indoor Location Information Challenge
With this recent Google announcement, we are only dealing with items number 2 and 3 above. The Google announcement does not address item 1- Call Routing.
Also, Googles’ mobile operating system, Android, commands approximately 80% of the market globally and almost 60% of the market in the United States.
Google has announced an Android feature that can provide accurate location information for wireless 9-1-1 callers. It is currently available in the UK and Estonia.
Per Akshay Kannan, Google Product Manager “this uses the same location technologies available on your phone, including Wi-Fi, GPS, and cell towers, to produce a more reliable emergency location both indoors and outdoors.”
There is no app to install. Instead, Google will work with each wireless provider to allow the location information that Android calculates to be utilized by 9-1-1. An individual calling 9-1-1 would not need to have any knowledge of the technology or do anything special (e.g. search for their 9-1-1 app), they simply dial 9-1-1.
Google is reportedly in discussion with U.S. wireless providers.
So, without any technical details, Google has “put it out there” that they can assist the 9-1-1 community and the general population. Exactly how this technology works, or how the wireless carriers will utilize it, is not yet clear. We can guess, however, that this may be a major breakthrough that could immediately assist Calltakers by better identifying the location of the 9-1-1 caller.
We are all aware that last year the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted new rules around 9-1-1 location accuracy. APCO Website on the the FCC Location Rules. Will the wireless carriers utilize this technology to quickly provide more accurate location data for 9-1-1 callers? Or possibly use it to augment other plans?
I am hopeful that more information will be provided in the near term.
Also, I hope our friends at Apple have a similar offering in the works. I turned down an offer to work on Tim Cook’s team back in 2004- I’m not sure he will take my call…