D.C. Uses RapidSOS to Determine 911 Caller Location

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The District of Columbia is using technology from RapidSOS to upgrade 911 location data. The New York-based company is offering its technology for free to police and fire officials across the country to overcome the gap between wired 911 systems and smartphones.

More than 80 percent of 911 calls nationwide and in D.C. come from smartphones. 

The District receives up to 3,500 911 calls a day, reported The Washington Post. In 2014, the District found that of 385,341 wireless calls to 911 in six months, accurate location data was available for only 39,805 of them.

“If I can push a button and get an Uber, why can’t I push a button and get the police?” said RapidSOS founder and CEO Michael Martin. RapidSOS is also working with emergency call centers in Fairfax County, VA and other jurisdictions in the Washington Metropolitan area.

The company works with 911 centers and carriers like Apple, Google and Android to transfer location data from phones directly into the emergency call centers. The technology that better pinpoints a caller’s location, “saves precious seconds and allows us to get help to the caller as quickly as possible,” said Karima Holmes, director of the D.C. Office of Unified Communications.

The FCC put in place, benchmarks for carriers to meet to ensure information can be transferred from devices to 911 call centers. Carriers have until 2021 to make sure locations can be transmitted to within 50 yards 80 percent of the time, according to the account.

D.C. is upgrading its 911 call centers, which is why RapidSOS could be integrated into its system. The so-called Next Generation 911 allows people to text in emergencies and provides better location data to first responders.  Comments? Email Us.

February 19, 2019

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