Calling 911 question.

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Thread: Calling 911 question.

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    Distinguished Member Array ericb327's Avatar
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    Calling 911 question.

    Can the dispatcher give police a location for cell phone callers that are unable to speak or incapacitated?

    GPS or triangulating cell towers signals.
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    Member Array lordofwyr's Avatar
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    Most modern cellphones can be "Pinged" for location and their location known withing a few feet. A lot of departments do this routinely for missing children, endangered persons and such.
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    Distinguished Member Array phreddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lordofwyr View Post
    Most modern cellphones can be "Pinged" for location and their location known withing a few feet. A lot of departments do this routinely for missing children, endangered persons and such.
    I believe this to be true. However, I am pretty sure that it takes longer than using the caller id address.
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    Of course, big brother knows all! Cell phone calls can be be triangulates on if given the time to do so.
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    New Member Array Gliderguy's Avatar
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    I work for flight service, and part of our business is initiating search and rescue actions on overdue aircraft, or when a concerned family member calls about an overdue aircraft. Cell pings have been used to help further a search. In our case it is a phone not in an active call and is just periodically checking in with the cell towers. Accuracy under THESE condition was a few MILES. It also took a little time to get the info. A phone on an active call, with GPS capability enabled, could be a whole different animal.

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    It all depends on the phone and the Public Safety Answering Point. Cell providers have been updating their equipment constantly. Twenty years ago all we got was the closest tower. And that took time. Then what sector from the tower. Now with GPS enabled phones and the upgraded network a current PSAP when your call rings in should know within about 100 feet where you are. The only problem is those toys are expensive and not everyone has it in their budget to have the latest and greatest stuff.
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    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericb327 View Post
    Can the dispatcher give police a location for cell phone callers that are unable to speak or incapacitated?

    GPS or triangulating cell towers signals.
    Yes......in most places today. I figure there are still some areas that are not covered. Most of these will not have a cell signal, and if you're stuck in a cave, good luck with GPS. In city limits, or on major roads or highways these days, no worries. Simply dial 911 and they should be on the way to the location of the cell phone that placed the call or last known location. GPS far as I know still needs a bird's eye view.

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    Quote Originally Posted by archer51 View Post
    Of course, big brother knows all! Cell phone calls can be be triangulates on if given the time to do so.
    In urban areas, sure. But in the boonies....well, let's just say it's hard to triangulate from one tower.

    Need GPS for that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcp1810 View Post
    It all depends on the phone and the Public Safety Answering Point. Cell providers have been updating their equipment constantly. Twenty years ago all we got was the closest tower. And that took time. Then what sector from the tower. Now with GPS enabled phones and the upgraded network a current PSAP when your call rings in should know within about 100 feet where you are. The only problem is those toys are expensive and not everyone has it in their budget to have the latest and greatest stuff.
    This!

    The Answering Point has to have the updated system. If it does it can use the GPS on the phone, if not they have to go another route, sometimes with lots of hurdles to jump over.

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    as others have said....yes

    if phones are equipped with gps (and its turned on) its fairly easy and quick for our comm center to ping the location of the phone, the phone carrier is also contacted for assistance in emergencies to assist, here these locations are within 80 feet

    we get pings on 911 hangups that are shown on a map over a certain address so we can check, most of the times these are butt-dials but every so often we get there an its wife calling because her drunk husband is beating her up again, or someone having health issue
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    VIP Member Array mprp's Avatar
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    The technology is getting better, but for now landline 911 calls are much more efficient with obvious instant location of the originating call. I remember the tragic results due to the communication gap in the system and familiarity on how to best use the existing technology in the Oregon mountains in 2006.

    Snip taken from The Kim Family's tragic journey | OregonLive.com

    From The Oregonian of Saturday, Jan. 20, 2007 -- Kim case reveals gap in search know-how: A report urges more training on using cell phone signals to track missing people
    By Steve Suo and Elizabeth Suh

    The search for the missing Kim family of San Francisco revealed a problem that could arise in any of the 800,000 missing persons cases opened nationwide each year: Many detectives don't understand how to follow clues left by a person's cell phone.

    Your cell phone continues to silently communicate with your wireless network even when you are not talking. The phone sends signals to the nearest cellular tower so that your phone company knows where to route an incoming call. If you roam onto someone else's network, your provider is alerted.

    Some providers retain this information even after you have lost a signal, providing a trail that might help rescuers find you when you can't call 9-1-1.

    This information proved pivotal in the Kim family search, but it only came to light because two phone workers in Southern Oregon volunteered to find it. Detectives in San Francisco, by their own admission, failed to ask the kind of questions that could have led them to the Kims' last electronic signal.
    It's an interesting read for sure. I know that it's been six years and some things may be better but probably only in certain areas. And I think unless research is done on a specific emergency agency, it would be hard to give a blanket answer to the question. Proper equipment, training and funding would have a major part to play in the strides toward this solution.
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    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    The biggest problem for 9-1-1 its not cell phones, it is VOIP service. If you look at the small print on the vonage ads it says 9-1-1 works differently. Whenyou set up your service you tell it what you're physical address is. That determines which PSAP you call goes to. I got a call one night from a guy who forgot to reset his address after moving from the Washington D.C. suburbs to San Diego.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericb327 View Post
    Can the dispatcher give police a location for cell phone callers that are unable to speak or incapacitated?

    GPS or triangulating cell towers signals.
    There are two fundamental location methods, GPS and Tower Proximity. GPS can locate you to about 60 ft in principle, where tower proximity is rarely better than a thousand ft and often much worse.

    People tend to believe that if their current technology cell phone has GPS, then that is what's being used. Generally that is not true for two important reasons. GPS eats battery power and is mostly off because of that. The other reason is that GPS needs a good view of the sky. It simply will not work inside most buildings unless you're hugging a large window.

    The net result is that unless you can provide some additional location information, don't expect a rapid response.

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