Pinpointing Caller Location to Accelerate Response Times

In Blog by Daniel Biagé | VP of R&D April 03, 2018

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Real estate agents love to talk about location. You’ll often hear the phrase “location is everything.” In the PSAP world, the phrase takes on a much deeper meaning. When people are in distress, the ability to quickly pinpoint their exact location can quite literally mean the difference between life and death. 

To provide the right guidance and help first responders find people as quickly as possible, call takers must immediately know exactly where callers are. 

Here are three ways to improve the precision of your location information. 

Add Building and Venue Details to Databases

Knowing the x and y coordinates for a location may be adequate to find a house or an individual retail outlet, but it isn’t enough information to quickly find people in an office tower, apartment building, hotel, shopping complex, or entertainment venue. And location data based on cell tower triangulation can be so inaccurate it’s sometimes referred to as being “all over the map.” 

To help first responders find people in tall buildings, call takers need the ability to view the z coordinate for vertical height so they can identify the floor on which the call originated. For sprawling complexes, they need the ability to view caller location on floor plans, seating plans, or geographical layouts. 

It does take time and effort to add this level of detail to geographic information system (GIS) databases. But you only have to pause for a minute and imagine first responders combing through the floors of a large building or racing through the halls of a shopping mall in search of a caller to realize how vital this information is.  

Incorporate Location Details From Third Parties

The need for more precise location information is so crucial to public safety that independent organizations are stepping in to help. 

RapidSOS is one example. The RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse is a standards-based Next Generation
9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) data clearinghouse. It provides a national database in which data from enabled devices (smartphones, as well as other connected devices) can be captured during an emergency and sent to
9-1-1 and first responders.

PSAPs using an emergency call handling and management system that has the RapidSOS integration can retrieve more precise, device-based caller location when its available. Location testing pilot projects have shown that device-based location via the NG911 Clearinghouse is faster and more accurate than traditional network-based location. 

At Solacom, we believe so strongly in the value of the RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse that we have partnered with RapidSOS to integrate this capability as part of a free software upgrade of our Guardian
9-1-1 Call Handling solution

Make Sure GIS Data Is Accurate and Up-To-Date

Today, inaccurate GIS data may mean a PSAP can’t locate a caller on a map. However, as PSAPs migrate to NG9-1-1, the accuracy of GIS information becomes far more crucial because NG9-1-1 systems will use geospatial data to determine which PSAP receives the 9-1-1 call. 

If a PSAP’s GIS information is not accurate and up-to-date, the call could be routed to a default PSAP that is not in the best position to help the caller. 

Get More Information

Location is just one of the big trends PSAPs must consider as they migrate toward NG9-1-1 emergency call handling and management.


For insight into other key trends, read our brief:
 5 Trends to Consider When Choosing a Next-Generation Emergency Call Handling System

Download the Brief


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