Leading 911 systems provider Intrado recently completed a test in Seattle demonstrating the ability to integrate three different technologies to automatically determine the location of even nomadic voice-over-IP callers seeking emergency services.

In cooperation with King County, Intrado made hundreds of emergency test calls in the Seattle area to determine whether its 911 systems would be able to recognize the location of the callers and route the call to the proper public-safety answering point (PSAP), said Robin Erkkila, Intrado's senior product marketing manager.

The tests were the first done since Intrado announced agreements with three location-determination vendors — Rosum, S5 Wireless and Skyhook Wireless.

“The approach we took was to make sure that we could integrate these technologies completely with our system to work end-to-end,” Erkkila said. “Not only did we want to make sure our system could talk with the Rosum, S5 and Skyhook systems, but that we could do something with the information.

“It worked out great. All the calls went right through.”

Currently, VoIP providers depend on customers to update their addresses manually for the purpose of routing emergency calls. However, that approach can lead to inaccurate call routing if customers fail to update the 911 database.

With this in mind, Intrado is reviewing possible ways to determine the location of a VoIP caller automatically, Erkkila said. All three of the vendors offer different types of wireless location-determination technologies. Rosum uses unmodified broadcast television signals, S5 offers a low-speed wireless technology and the Skyhook solution leverages Wi-Fi networks.

All three technologies were tested on each call. Each technology offers unique strengths, but all seemed to work “pretty well” and appeared to be at least as accurate as existing location-determination technologies for cellular 911 calls, Erkkila said.

“The focus of this project was about integrating [the location-determination technologies] into our system and delivering calls to the PSAP,” Erkkila said. “That has never been done before.”