Intrado today announced that it is offering carriers a hosted emergency location solution called Emergency Assist in the United States that would enable law enforcement to find mobile-phone subscribers who are in potentially life-threatening situations, even if the cell phone is not being used.

With the Emergency Assist tool, a carrier can provide law enforcement with the longitude-latitude location of a subscriber’s phone quickly and accurately. The location service is used only at the request of law enforcement in an emergency situation, following the subpoena procedures of a given state, according to Dami Hummel, Intrado's vice president and general manager.

“We don’t just do this for any location inquiry, like, ‘I wonder where my sister is?’ — it’s not a commercial service by any means,” Hummel said.

For Emergency Assist to be used, law enforcement must demonstrate a specific need, whether it is trying to locate abduction victims or people believed to be in medical duress, Hummel said. While this capability has existed for certain large wireless carriers that own sophisticated location-based-services infrastructure, the hosted nature of Emergency Assist is designed to make the service affordable for smaller carriers, she said.

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“Some Tier 1s already have this capability,” Hummel said. “But, in the Tier 2 and Tier 3 market, what we’re finding is that they haven’t had the money to invest in this technology, and they welcome it as a good assistance to law enforcement.”

To locate a subscriber, the phone does not need to make any transmissions, but it must be turned on, so the location can be determined, Hummel said.

Intrado has been offering Emergency Assist in Canada since the beginning of the year and is just beginning to offer the service in the United States.

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