1. #1
    Forum Member

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    Feb 2007
    Dallas Texas

    Default 911 and Cell phones

    I have heard that 911 centers cannot locate you if you call in on a cell phone. I have had many yes and no answers from people that are supposed to know. Would like to know what you guys think.

  2. #2
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    jlcooke3's Avatar
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    Apr 2005
    Aiken, SC


    Actually it varies. There is two types of 911 basic and enhanced. Basic 911 simply allows for an easy three digit number for accessing emergency help. Enhanced 911 allows 911 centers to have access to a callers name, phone number, and street address. When it comes to cell phones there is different phases of technology being implemented that will allow enhanced 911 centers to 1 have the phone number of the cell phone calling, in the past you simply got the location of the cell tower and its number. As the phases progress you get an x and y locater which if the 911 center has the appropriate GPS, GIS technology in place can locate the caller. Newer technology will also allow for a z locater the z locater is for elevation so that the 911 center can locate a caller within a multistory building. All of this technology only works with certain cell phones. Allow of this technology has to be paid for by the cell phone companies and 911 centers. Some areas can some areas can't. Heck some areas still don't have 911.

  3. #3
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    ramseycl's Avatar
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    Jan 2002
    Next to the big ditch


    We just got Phase II at our dispatch center. When a caller with a phase II compliant phone calls 911 their location shows up on a map. They are still adjusting the system, and the location is not 100% accurate, but we are getting really close. The biggest help so far is for accidents in the county where people have no clue where they are. The location shows up on a map, and we can at least get the fire crews close.
    Different areas have different regulations.
    "Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all"

  4. #4
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    DCFD1415's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    Lamar S.C.


    Think how big that will be if someone is kidnapped and some how has their cell phone on them. I know it does not happen often but it has in the past. Being able to get the police, ems and fire agencies on scene fast could mean the difference in life and death. The joys of technology.
    What we do in life... echoes in eternity!!!

  5. #5
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    nmfire's Avatar
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    Nov 2002
    Maryland (DC Suburb)


    The above descriptions of how E-911 for cell phones is right on. It is not in place everywhere. We have it here in CT and it is marvelous. I will add three more pieces of information here as well.

    - Phase II will use either GPS or triangulation to plot the phone's location. A GPS equipped cell phone will send it's coorrdinates to the system and that will be plotted on the map. If the phone is moving, I can keep hitting refresh ALI and it will show the blip in motion on the map. The position will be as accurate as the phone's GPS signal. This has proved its worth over and over since being installed and it is dead on most of the time.

    - A non-GPS equipped phone will be located using signal strength triangulation from multiple cell towers. The system can calculate the distance from the tower based on signal strength and the direction based on the antenna. Do that with three towers within range of the phone and you can triangulate the position. This is not nearly as accurate as the GPS method but it can get you to within a mile or two usually.

    - Regular cell calls (not 911) do not provide anything to us. If the planets are in line and the 3rd moon of Jupiter is at the right angle to the sun, we might get a standard caller-id just like you would at home. But that depends greatly on the design of your dispatch center's non-emergency telephone system.

    - For tracking down missing people, there are some things that can be done. I've only had to do this with Cingular so I'm not sure what the other carriers can do in comparison. Probably something similar. They will fax us an emergency authorization form to fax back to them with the information we needed and signatures, etc. They can then tell us what radio towers were used for his recent phone calls. However, there is a 2-hour buffer. Example, if we call at 11am, they can only give us data up to 9am.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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