It might seem a little obvious but in the case of emergency calls, accurate caller location is one of the most significant pieces of information an emergency dispatcher can use. Without the actual location of the caller, emergency services would be unable to dispatch help correctly and valuable moments could be lost getting… well, lost.
Many people don’t think about the technology behind these calls, they just assume (and hope) it always works. Essentially, when a call comes from a landline telephone number, or a fixed network, there is an associated address which is identified for the responder. This gives the ambulance, firefighter or police the precise location of the incident in case the person is not capable of providing his/her location information over the phone.
In some cases, unfortunately, emergency situations happen in large facilities like offices, laboratories and school campuses. In these cases, operators need more specific information in order to dispatch the respond team effectively . For example, if an emergency takes place in the office of the CEO, located on the third floor, the emergency service would only receive the address of the main office (even when the call is made from the CEO office directly), and would have to take extra steps to find precise location on the spot. This scenario is often due to the limitations in the process of tying a number to an address in the emergency database. In fact, once a business ties a range of numbers to a location, it is very difficult to edit the details to convey a more specific location, such as floor number, if they add an additional number.
Ideally, telecommunications providers should provide customers with a portal for managing the location of the phone numbers in near real time, without much hassle. Telco’s are, however, facing several challenges if they want to offer an automated process:
- Emergency databases are based on prehistoric technology, not providing an interface for real-time provisioning and service management. In some countries, updates of location information in the emergency database takes up to two weeks to be processed.
- IT systems of traditional telecommunications service providers have become so complex that automating such process is difficult and costly. As such, it isn’t often that updating the system is a higher priority than other revenue increasing projects.
- Emergency databases differ based on country. This complicates things substantially for multinational telecommunication service providers, making it nearly impossible to automate this process at reasonable cost.
While a full overhaul is unlikely, an improved provisioning process of location information in the emergency database would lead to better location accuracy. It could potentially save lives, which should make it the highest priority. Voxbone, in fact, offers a number of services to support emergency dialing. If you’re interested in learning more, follow this link.
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