Will 911 be able to find you?

We work for some of the most technologically advanced companies in the world. I mean some of these companies can do things that once only though real in the Jetsons. If small, independently owned companies can take that many technology breakthroughs, then why can’t an organization like 911 catch up?

As someone who understands the importance of the 9-1-1 service quite well (my fiancé is a firefighter/cardiac EMT), I know how this service has helped saved so many lives since its existence. With all the advancements in GPS technology in cell phones and cars, you’d think 911 would have access to all of it to ensure respondents can find you at a moment’s notice – well that’s not the case. This article on MSN tells some harrowing stories of how victims could not be saved simply because their local 911 dispatcher office did not have the latest technology to be able to track where the call came from.

With the increase in people dropping landlines in favor of cell phones, this could mean hundreds of thousands of people won’t be able to get the help they think they can when they call 911. If you make an emergency call from a landline, dispatchers can automatically pinpoint your exact location and send proper authorities to your home. Heck, even products like LifeAlert can do the same, so why is it that so many 911 call centers are behind the times?

U.S. cell phone carriers are mandated to integrate GPS technology into 95% of the phones they cell, which can triangulate a phone’s location based on satellite towers. But that will only get you as far as the 911 infrastructure. The nonprofit 911 Industry Alliance found last year that most 911 systems still rely on older analog hardware. Which most people know is incredibly outdated (just look at the DTV transition).

Unfortunately only so much can be done. Most 911 call centers rely on government funding. With the economy still circling the proverbial toilet, many states don’t have the funds to update their systems, even though it would make for a safer community and save more lives.

While there are several programs in place to try to get all call centers up to modern times, it is not going to happen overnight. This unfortunate occurrence is predominate in rural or underdeveloped areas, but exists nationwide. My suggestion to you is to call your local authorities to determine if your local 911 call center can track GPS. If not, there isn’t much you can do, but take it upon yourself to make it a priority to have an idea of your surroundings and location at all times.

Posted by: Lauren

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