Both the City of Frankfort, which is the county seat of Franklin County in Kentucky, and Franklin County are modifying emergency communication networks to make wireless communications more dependable and widespread. 911 services have been facing more and more problems when call centers receive emergency calls from cell phone users. Cell phone users are more difficult to locate than users calling from a landline, mostly because there is a challenge to get user specific information, without violating the privacy of individuals.
E-911 director, Derron Rambo, shared how first responders were find their job increasingly more difficult. “It used to be that we got a call from your house,” Rambo said. “We had a bill associated with that address and we knew where to go. Well, with cell phones people move around and that changed things,” reported the State Journal.
For now, emergency calls from cell phones are traced to nearby towers. The distance that could entail depends on how far towers are spread apart. Even when towers are in close proximity, the distance emergency responders would need to cover is quite vast considering their need to respond as quickly as possible.
Rambo added, “The frustration I think with 911 centers has been that you can take your smartphone out with your GPS app and drive to a store, or a restaurant or someone’s house in another state and it will tell you almost to the foot where you are. But, we don’t get that information. If you call and say ‘I’m lost in the woods’ we’ve probably got a 10-mile area to be searching,” he told the State Journal.
Among the upgrades the counties are planning on implementing are text capabilities for dispatchers, a digital phone system, and modified recording equipment. With texting capabilities, dispatchers can communicate with those that need help in the event a cellular call is dropped. These new features can be installed as soon as the FCC approves the use of these new technologies.