As the FCC updates its 911 rules for the wireless era, TeleCommunication Systems (TCS) is leading the charge to help carriers meet new safety standards.
Under a new rule passed by the FCC in January, wireless providers must now meet certain indoor location accuracy benchmarks for both horizontal and vertical location measures to help first responders find callers, especially those in multi-story buildings. But according to TCS Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Tim Lorello, the company’s new location solution doesn’t just meet the standard, it exceeds it.
Using a new mapping system that leverages a database of Wi-Fi signals and Bluetooth beacons, TCS’s LocatE9-1-1 solution can provide emergency responders with a dispatchable location accurate to within 50 meters or less of the caller’s position.
“GPS doesn’t work so well indoors, so we as a company have been focusing on a number of indoor technologies to help address this challenge,” Lorello explained. “Wi-fi by its nature is very low power. So if you’re within access of a Wi-Fi point as such that you’re phone detects it, you’re probably within 50 meters of it. So if we take that Wi-Fi location and provide it to responders they basically know where it is.”
So far, Lorello said tests of the system have consistently yielded results with accuracy of 20 meters or less, meaning that the solution already exceeds the 50 meter requirement set by the FCC.
Lorello said the solution – which has not yet been deployed publicly - still faces challenges in building up the necessary database and the lack of Wi-Fi in some buildings, but said the pieces for a life-saving, long-term solution are there.
“We’re all working to try to figure out how to make a better 911 system,” Lorello said. “All the elements are there. You’ve got all the Legos but no one’s put them together yet. We wrote an application that can pull that information out (of a caller’s phone) but the problem is it’s not on every phone yet and we need to get more and more (Wi-Fi location) data into the systems that will hold this technology.”
“This is where our world’s headed and it’s an exciting place to be,” he said.
TeleCommunications Systems will be at booth #414 at this week’s Competitive Carrier’s Association conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.