Iowa 911 Centers Roll Out Cell Phone Locator Capability

Eighty-four of Iowa's 99 counties now have the technology.


July 1 was the deadline for all 911-dispatch centers in Iowa to be able to locate cell phone callers, but not every county is ready to go.

Eighty-four of Iowa's 99 counties now have the technology to pinpoint cell phone users who call 911 within 75 feet of their location.

Six months ago, if callers dialed 911 from their cell phones from rural Dallas County, emergency crews would have to use the nearest cell phone tower to locate the callers. Now they can locate people more precisely.

"So, if they have an accident and if they're only able to hit the send button, we should be able to locate them relatively quickly," said Dallas County Chief Deputy Sheriff Kevin Frederick.

Dispatchers see a cell phone pop up on a map.

"You'll find a bug here and there, but we've had nothing that's interrupted providing service to the citizens," Frederick said.

Lead dispatcher Bob Coffin said he won't forget what it was like before the new system was in place, such as when a Dallas County woman who lay trapped under her car after a rollover accident.

"We had fire departments going up and down gravel roads with their sirens on while we listened through the phone for the siren," Coffin said.

What used to take hours, now takes a few moments.

"So, it's great," he said.

Not every county was ready on time. Audubon, Greene, Pocahontas, Story and Worth counties will roll out the technology within two weeks.

Clayton, Jones, Monona, Webster and Wright counties will be ready by the end of year.

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