FCC Public Safety Chief: Inaccurate 911 Maps “Are Killing People”


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apco2016-logo (1)Critical 911 maps are “too often” inaccurate, especially across jurisdictional boundaries, which is undermining efforts to improve emergency location services from wireless devices according to David Simpson, Chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.  Simpson made his strong statements regarding the accuracy of maps used by local emergency services at the 82nd annual APCO Conference & Expo in Orlando.

“In 911, the maps aren’t right too often,” Simpson said while addressing the crowd at APCO 2016. “Too often, the maps end at the county line, and then a misroute occurs.”

“Sometimes it’s not a misroute, but the ambiguity hits when the call is served by a tower in an adjacent jurisdiction, and it goes to a PSAP (public-safety answering point) that doesn’t have a map for where the caller is.”

Simpson cited a 2016 case in which emergency services were delayed in attending to a North Carolina man, in part because the answering PSAP did not have accurate map information. The answering PSAP was located in a neighboring jurisdiction, reports Urgent Communications.

Simpson said there is “exciting activity” underway with respect to the development of more accurate location services and information for public officials, but such development will prove fruitless without accurate maps for PSAPs to rely upon.

“We can’t let maps kill people, and maps are killing people. So, if you would play any role in the chain of procuring systems or services for your jurisdiction, or you’re a vendor that sells CAD or a GIS provider, please engage. Don’t let maps end at limit of the jurisdiction.”

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