Sunday, March 18, 2012

How 911 texting will impact search and rescue

Search and rescue helicopter

Last week I posted about how 911 can’t even locate your mobile phone in many parts of the US, so most folks shouldn’t expect to be able to text 911 anytime soon, but that will change early next year for some Verizon customers. There isn’t a firm schedule for nationwide implementation of this next generation 911 capability, but imagine the impact it will ultimately have on backcountry search and rescue (SAR). After all, text messages can often be successfully delivered where coverage is too weak to place a voice call. read more

Can 911 locate your mobile phone?

E-911 phase 2 coverage map

I was researching another post this morning when I came across some interesting information on the ability of 911 services to determine the location of mobile phones. Phase II Enhanced 911 allows location info to be passed along from mobile phones when you dial 911, and while all but eight states have implemented this in 80% or more of their counties, the clickable map above shows it to have still been pretty spotty as of a year ago. Less than half of the states have fully implemented this standard. read more

911 Fail: Your phone’s GPS may not locate you

GPS cellphone errorI’ve posted tons of links over the years about how cellphone GPS has helped rescue folks in the wilderness. Of course you have to be where there is reception to reach 911. But as many GPS users know, the urban environment has its own challenges in terms of accuracy.

Knowing all this, I was still pretty shocked to see a story showing the results of a Michigan TV station’s test of cellphone GPS accuracy and how well it helps (or doesn’t help) 911 responders.

Now granted, they tried from challenging locations like a parking deck, but even less difficult environments proved problematic. Consider these results from a facility that appears to be pretty open

read more