Study: Location Data Often Not Provided for 911 Cell Calls in Calif.
More than 50% of 911 cellular calls in five regions of California did not provide precise information about the caller's location, according to a study by CalNENA, The Hill's "Hillicon Valley" reports.
CalNENA is California's chapter of the National Emergency Number Association.
Researchers reviewed 911 calls placed in:
- San Francisco;
- San Jose; and
- Ventura County.
They evaluated how much location data were provided from five different cellular service providers, including:
- T-Mobile; and
- Verizon (Sasso, "Hillicon Valley," The Hill, 8/14).
Researchers found that in December 2012:
- T-Mobile provided the precise location of the caller an average of 19% of the time;
- Metro did so 29% of the time;
- AT&T did so 31% of the time;
- Sprint did so 40% of the time; and
- Verizon did so 57% of the time.
According to the study, the amount of location data that cellular carriers provide to emergency dispatchers has declined "significant[ly]" since 2008. AT&T and T-Mobile have led the trend, with the amount of location data they provide declining by 61 percentage points and 28 percentage points, respectively, from 2008 to 2012 (CalNENA study, 8/12).
However, carriers have provided information about which cell towers that 911 callers used to place the call, the study found.
Reaction to Study
Following the study, CalNENA President Danita Crombach sent a letter to Mignon Clyburn -- the acting chair of the Federal Communications Commission -- calling for stricter 911 location requirements for cellular service providers.
She wrote that the lack of location data is "a serious public safety concern," noting that "cell site information alone is generally of little value in finding the victim or 911 caller, since the geographic area served by each cell site can be very large."
In a separate statement, Crombach called on FCC to "take immediate action on existing rule compliance and require the wireless carriers to provide location data with all 911 calls in all environments, indoors and outside, urban and rural."
An FCC spokesperson said the agency currently is reviewing the study. An AT&T spokesperson said the company also is examining the findings ("Hillicon Valley," The Hill, 8/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.