Answering the Call: A Consensus-Based Approach Is the Best Path to Meaningfully Enhancing 9-1-1 Location Information
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel issued a challenge today at APCO’s conference on 9-1-1 accuracy. And we stand ready to answer her call and the Commission’s broader effort to bolster our existing 9-1-1 system. We need to work harder and faster. We need a smarter approach to improve 9-1-1 location accuracy. We need to work with all stakeholders to enhance wireless 9-1-1 accuracy. I pledge that we will at CTIA. Commissioner Rosenworcel noted that public safety officials and wireless carriers are having a “frank dialogue” about improving wireless 9-1-1 location accuracy and she described four core principles that should be part a new location information solution: dispatchable, verifiable, flexible and reasonable time. Commissioner Rosenworcel hit the mark. CTIA and our member companies are committed to a consensus-based solution focused on providing public safety with actionable location information based on a dispatchable address using tested and proven technological solutions. Consensus-based and voluntary approaches with our public safety partners have worked before to improve 9-1-1 accuracy, offer Text-to-911 capabilities, establish Wireless Emergency Alerts, and Wireless Priority Service. The FCC’s 9-1-1 location accuracy rules focus on sending a PSAP the location of a wireless 9-1-1 call within meters. While the current 9-1-1 location information has enabled our first responders to save countless lives, public safety has repeatedly stated that they really want a “dispatchable” address for a wireless 9-1-1 call. Some location technology vendors claim that the FCC’s proposed rules are what we need today, but there is no evidence that incremental changes to the current location accuracy benchmarks will get public safety more “actionable” location information than we have today. CTIA believes that now is the time to pursue another consensus based approach – that together, we can produce an achievable and forward looking solution that provides public safety with meaningful improvement to locating wireless 9-1-1 calls. We hope Jamie Barnett and his client TruePosition, a location technology vendor, support this effort to find a consensus-based solution to meet public safety’s goal. Jamie, TruePosition, and the FindMe911 Coalition that they back have recently taken to criticizing efforts by public safety groups and others to use a consensus-based approach to find a technologically viable path towards improving 9-1-1 location information. This is unfortunate and a disservice to what should be our collective goal. Everyone in this debate wants enhanced solutions in place as soon as possible. We want tested and verified technological solutions that will enhance the ability of first responders to perform their life-saving role. This is too important a challenge for glossy PR campaigns or attacks to try to force regulators, public safety, and carriers towards a single vendor’s fading technology. It is time to roll up our sleeves and meet the FCC’s challenge, and we hope Jamie and TruePosition are also ready to answer the call. For starters, TruePosition can participate in the next independent test bed for vendors to demonstrate whether their location accuracy technologies can meet public safety’s objectives to meaningfully improve wireless 9-1-1 location accuracy. We hope that TruePosition and others can show that their products can keep up with the pace of wireless network evolution and the needs of first responders. Our team is working hard to find a consensus-based solution, and our member company commitment to this challenge is resolute. Let’s all work together starting today.