Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Apple to add life-saving new GIS feature for 911 but how will it improve services on the Dunwoody borders with other 911 jurisdictions?

As a member of the Dunwoody City Council, one of the most aggravating subjects to cross my desk is hearing that a resident called 911 and it was answered by Gwinnett County, transferred to Doraville and finally routed to ChatComm which services the City of Dunwoody.  The latest problematic call was made in the City about a half mile way from Gwinnett by an iPhone with Wi-Fi calling activated on the phone and the call was routed to the wrong 911 Center.  Technology is wonderful but when it comes to safety every little glitch is problematic and hopefully this upgrade will be incorporated by all area 911 centers. 

I have an email into Chief Grogan and ChatComm looking for more information but I am hoping for better service as technology improves.
Apple is rolling out a new feature in its next iPhone software update to send emergency responders instant, precise location information in the US. The update, coming in iOS 12 later this year, calculates a caller's location based on data collected from WiFi access points, nearby cellular towers, and GPS.

The tricky part isn't finding out where a caller is — Apple has been using its hybrid location technology since 2015 — but relaying that information to a fragmented and aging 911 system built for landlines.

Of the 240 million calls made to 911 each year, more than 80% are from mobile devices, according to NEMA.

Apple is working with a startup called RapidSOS, which specializes in sharing a cell phone's location information to the major programs used by the 6,300 emergency response departments across the US. RapidSOS offers its integration as a free software update to existing 911 dispatch systems.



Chatcomm's Smart 911 Service is something every Dunwoody resident should sign up for!

Are you aware of limitations 911 service over VOIP? - FCC.gov

Portable interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services can be used from virtually any Internet connection anywhere, which raises challenges for the emergency services community in determining the location from which a 911 call has originated.
You should be aware that:
  • VoIP 911 calls may not connect to the PSAP, or may improperly ring to the administrative line of the PSAP, which may not be staffed after hours, or by trained 911 operators.
  • VoIP 911 calls may correctly connect to the PSAP, but not automatically transmit the user's phone number and/or location information.
  • VoIP customers may need to provide location or other information to their VoIP providers, and update this information if they change locations, for their VoIP 911 service to function properly.
  • VoIP service may not work during a power outage, or when the Internet connection fails or becomes overloaded.


Unknown said...

I support your efforts and those of Chief Grogan in getting Chatcomm to upgrade their system to utilize this emerging technology. I had also sent him an email message a few days ago when the publicity about RapidSOS came out.

Another thing of growing interest, is the wide-spread use of motion activated cameras, like Ring, that report movement at your front door. It would be very helpful to those of us who have equipped our homes with these devices to have a phone number that allow us to contact a Chatcomm Call Taker directly when we get an alert on our cell phones and are not in the Dunwoody area.

Dialing 911 on our cell while we are in a distant city would not get us to Chatcomm to report an intruder, but having a direct number would. Can you get an appropriate number and publish it for our fellow residents to use in this circumstance?

Thanks for being on top of this,
Barry K

bofdem said...

Chatcomm is functionally useless.
They ask for my phone number - twice - and address - twice - when I call from my land line.
So what does this GPS location do when their 30-year old systems (at a company which isn't 30 years old) can't even deal with my POTS (plain old telephone system)?
Can I just pick up my BellSouth/AT&T line and walk around Atlanta with it?

"Well 98% of 911 calls are from mobile phones," is their answer.

Yes, you genius, if you had caller ID (which they do) and identification of location (which they do for land lines) they wouldn't ask if I was calling from a mobile phone (which I'm not).

John Heneghan said...

Barry, thanks for the comment - I will ask Chatcomm if there is a public number to share in those circumstances.

Regarding the questions I had, they were answered by Stephen Pierce, Director of Operations for IXp/Chatcomm; who stated that the RapidSOS platform works within the RAVE Mobile Safety Suite already installed at Chatcomm. A caller does NOT have to be registered with RAVE (Smart911) for the RapidSOS feature to work. We would like all of our citizens to be registered with Smat911, as it can give the responders vital information.

When an individual calls 911 from their cell phone it routes through the nearest cell tower to the Public Safety Answering Point. The RapidSOS feature does not change any feature concerning cell tower location. Within the RAVE suite we have the ability to pull-up a map that shows the location of the caller. The iphone update will enhance this feature. Our current Phone system also pinpoints a callers location (limited to 30 meters.) within the map and we can compare the two. Our Call-Takers can use this information whenever an individual is not sure of their location or in the event of a medical emergency where we lose contact with the caller.

I also asked which neighboring communities were using the RapidSOS system and was told by Chief Grogan that DeKalb County, Brookhaven and Chamblee all have RapidSOS capability with Brookhaven & Chamblee actively using Smart911. DeKalb did not renew Smart911 but their CAD system has a way of "pinging" a cell phone for better location. Doraville and Gwinnett County do not have the RapidSOS System at this time and I will be talking to local representatives.

This is an important topic as there are news stories everyday where there are documented improvements needed to the system.