Wireless 911 location accuracy gets a boost
Denver 911, a public-safety answering point in Denver County, conducted a demonstration of new technology offered by WirelessWERX (www.wirelesswerx.com), which has created a wireless indoor-location service.
The company's aim is to significantly improve the accuracy of mobile 911 calls within buildings. Today's 911 systems are designed to provide a location within an area of confidence between 50 and 150 meters, but results still vary. The location of the caller may be five blocks away from where the system pinpoints the user. The onus is on the caller to determine his or her location, and 911 call-takers typically face other problems when talking with a mobile 911 caller, such as service degradation.
Denver 911, which estimates that up to 60% of the calls it takes come from mobile users, has found WirelessWERX's solution to such problems — dubbed SiteWERX — so compelling that it is becoming the nation's first PSAP to implement the platform.
SiteWERX is deployed as an in-building wireless node network. The location nodes, which sell for $80 apiece, are installed throughout a building. A Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone (about 90% of today's phones are Bluetooth-enabled) runs the SiteWERX application, which sits dormant until a caller dials 911. The platform's network software manages the nodes and sends location information to the PSAP. When the wireless 911 call is made, the caller's building, floor and room location automatically are sent to the PSAP.
The solution works, not only indoors but within a perimeter outdoors too. During the demonstration, the test caller made a call from an apartment building several miles away. Denver 911 was able to pinpoint the caller.
The technology offers a significant step forward in accuracy, but there are hurdles. Its widespread implementation depends on several factors: the willingness of building owners to deploy the technology, the willingness of mobile-phone users to download the application and the willingness of PSAPs to use the software.
Steve Artim, CEO of WirelessWERX, understands the technology is a complex sale. Its business model is to sell nodes to building owners, while PSAPs receive the software at no cost to them.
The company is targeting universities first because of their interest in the safety of their students, especially in light of campus shooting tragedies in the recent past. Universities keep a log of students' wireless numbers and can easily send out text messages prompting them to download the SiteWERX application. Artim said his company is working with several unnamed large universities in Colorado, Texas, Indiana, Utah and Ohio, and added that in Texas, the company has been able to tap some of the funds set aside for 911 upgrades.
He added that the company is signing on large installers and reseller partners to distribute the product. It counts ADT as a national reseller partner. WirelessWERX also plans to roll out a product whereby consumers can buy a node at a retailer and install it at home.
TETRA-COMPATIBLE CONSOLE SYSTEM
Zetron's DCS-5020 digital console system now supports Motorola's MTM800 enhanced TETRA radio. Other radios and protocols supported include the Sepura SRM3500 and EADS/Nokia TMR880/880i TETRA radios; and HF, UHF conventional, tone remote control and 5/6 tone Selcal radio protocols, the company said.
FIPS CLIENT UPDATED
EF Johnson announced that its 3e Technologies subsidiary released an update to its FIPS 140-2 validated 3e-010F client software that is compatible with Intel's wireless adapters. The capability lets Department of Defense and other federal users employ secure wireless LAN systems using FIPS 140-2 validated IEEE 802.11i technology, according to the company.
WI-FI ADDED TO LOCATION SOLUTION
Polaris Wireless integrated Wi-Fi capabilities into its wireless location signatures solution, which supports the Open Mobile Alliance's secure user-plane and control-plane standards. The integration provides wireless operators with a single-location platform that can determine the position of mobile devices for emergency calls and location-based services — regardless of device type, radio air interface and environment, the company said.
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