recommended reading

FCC Tries to Help Emergency Responders Find 911 Cellphone Callers


The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to move ahead with a proposal to require cellphone carriers to provide more accurate information about the location of 911 calls.

Telephone companies already have to inform 911 call centers about the location of landline callers, and there are also federal standards to ensure that emergency responders can find cell-phone callers when they are outdoors. But there are currently no requirements for location accuracy for indoor 911 cell-phone callers.

With more than 70 percent of 911 calls now coming from cell phones, poor location information is making it increasingly difficult for officials to respond to emergencies. Finding a caller inside of a large multistory building is a particular problem, the commission found.

The proposal would require carriers to locate 911 callers within 50 meters of their location horizontally and within three-meter verticals, which would essentially allow emergency responders to know which floor of a building the call was coming from.

The carriers would have to meet the horizontal standard accuracy for 67 percent of calls within two years and 80 percent of calls with five years. The carriers would have three years to meet the vertical accuracy requirement for 67 percent calls and five years for 80 percent of calls.

Ajit Pai and Michael O'Reilly, the two Republicans on the five-member commission, applauded the new standards but worried that the commission was setting an unrealistic timeline.

"Carriers cannot begin to deploy a technology solution that does not yet exist," Pai said. "And the public should not be led to rely on a promise that cannot be kept."

But FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had little sympathy for the Republicans' concerns.

"Hey, we're dealing with human life," he said.

Wheeler argued that it's "never wrong to overreach" on public safety, but he said the commission will remain flexible if technological problems arise.

The FCC will review comments on the proposal before voting on final regulations.

(Image via blurAZ/

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.