Mobile improvements to benefit 999

HEOC call handler

When someone calls 999, staff in our three emergency operation centres need to get an accurate location for where the caller is as soon as possible. 

If the call comes from a landline, it’s usually relatively easy – but for mobile phone this can be much more difficult. Callers don’t always know where they are and sometimes the only information that comes through might be the cell, or phone mast, the mobile is connecting to, which could cover many miles. 

However, a new report by industry regulator OFCOM shows that the situation is set to improve.  Manufacturers have been piloting new technology that is being incorporated into smart-phones that uses GPS navigation and Wi-Fi hotspot identification to give a much more accurate location. The report says that in future, when the handset detects an emergency call, it will find its position and send an emergency SMS message to the relevant control centre. Initial tests suggest this information should arrive within around 20 seconds of the start of the call. 

The process of sending an emergency SMS is already available in the UK and the networks are now supporting a move towards this technology.

Published 21st August, 2014

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