FCC scheduled to vote on 911 indoor location-accuracy rules this month
FCC commissioners are scheduled to consider the issue of indoor location accuracy for wireless 911 calls during its Jan. 29 meeting, the agency announced yesterday.
If approved, the vote would boost location information sharing between carriers and public-safety communication officials and enable public-safety answering points (PSAPs) to leverage technology to better pinpoint a caller’s location. The FCC posted the tentative agenda on Thursday.
“Today, I am circulating an order to my fellow commissioners that takes advantage of the good work done by the carriers, APCO (Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials) and NENA (National Emergency Number Association), while also providing confidence-building measures and backstop thresholds that set clear targets and deadlines for improving indoor location and hold parties accountable for results,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wrote in a blog post Thursday.
APCO commended the FCC’s work so far and the chairman’s proposals in its own blog post published Friday. APCO teamed with NENA and the four major wireless carriers last fall to develop a roadmap for improving wireless 911 indoor location accuracy.
Here is an excerpt from APCO’s blog post:
“It is time to break public safety out of the cycle of substandard proprietary solutions trailing technological advancements enjoyed in the consumer marketplace,” the APCO blog states. “It is time to depart from position estimates that are increasingly successful outdoors but inside buildings can leave responders searching for those who need help. People in need of emergency assistance, 911 call takers, 911 dispatchers, and first responders need to know the ‘door to kick down’ plain and simple.”
Last year, a Find Me 911 survey showed that 97% of PSAPs participating in the survey reported they had recently received a wireless 911 call from someone who could not identify his or her location. About 64% of 911 calls made from a wireless phone are placed from indoors.
The Find Me 911 coalition has pushed for technology-neutral requirements and for further evaluation of how technologies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and small cells might be leveraged to improve indoor location accuracy. The coalition, which has criticized the carrier roadmap as lacking accountability, has urged the FCC not to let the voluntary agreement replace the proposed FCC’s rules that were unveiled last February.