My fix for the 911 location problem



John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight on the 911 service points out that because about 70% of calls to 911 are made from wireless devices, most dispatch centers have trouble pinpointing the location of the caller. Yet, apps like Uber and the Domino’s Pizza app can find you with tremendous accuracy.

This is because of a lack of standards about how much data the wireless carriers will send to the 911 data centers, and for the technology used in the data centers.

It occurs to me that one difference between calling 911 and hailing an Uber is that on the one hand you are using the phone system, while the other is a native app. So – why can’t there be an app for calling 911 that is embedded in the phone dialer program on the cell phone? When someone dials that specific series of digits, it would actually be sending the call more like a VOIP call instead of how cell phone calls usually work. But all other calls would work like normal. Then the dispatch centers would have a cloud-based dashboard that joins up the GPS data with the caller.

Now, I’m not a coder, so it’s likely there’s more to it than this. But surely Apple and Google would have some manpower available to build this into the next iteration of their mobile operating systems.

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