A recent Wall Street Journal articled titled, “Why Uber Can Find You but 911 Can’t” explains why emergency dispatch centers don’t use the GPS locator on smartphones to locate emergency callers. The article highlights a serious problem – dispatchers don’t get your GPS location data when you call 911 from your cell phone – at best they get the location of the cell tower nearest you, but even that is often inaccurate.
911 Dispatch Center Technology
Did you know 911 dispatch centers are locally managed and equipped? Each state establishes and regulates their 911 dispatch centers according to their own rules. As you drive from one county to the next, you are probably switching dispatch centers — and technology. According to NENA, “As of December 2017, the United States has 5,783 primary and secondary PSAPs and 3,135 counties, which include parishes, independent cities, boroughs, and Census areas.”
Since each dispatch center runs independently there’s a wide range of technology used to locate people when they call 911. All systems handle calls from land lines well – they all show the dispatcher the address for the land line. However, over 80% of 911 calls come from cell phones – which most dispatch technology can’t handle. That’s why the dispatcher asks where you are – even when your cell phone GPS is turned on – they can’t see it.
Some dispatch centers are modernizing their software but the best systems still only delivers location within a 500 foot radius. That’s fine in a cornfield or out on a rural road, but in an urban setting when you have 30 or 40 houses on a two block radius (4 square blocks) it means police have to knock on doors to find the person in trouble.
Even when a person is outside, dispatch can’t find them if they are off the road. For example, the driver who tried to get help from 911 after driving off the road but died because her cell phone pinged a tower in another county.
Uber Arrives Faster than an Ambulance
A recent article compared wait times for ambulances and Uber ride shares, and presented the flow chart graphic I’ve attached to this post. The author noted, “In New York City, the median response time for an ambulance is
6.1 minutes. The median wait time for an Uber is 2.42 minutes in Manhattan, and 3.1 minutes in the outer boroughs. Note that the cited ambulance response time does not include the activation time, which is the amount of time
between receiving the call and actually dispatching the ambulance, nor the call wait time, which is the amount of time between placing the emergency call and being connected to an operator. That is to say, in practice, you can expect to wait even longer for an ambulance. In fact, in NYC, the standard ceiling for an acceptable ambulance wait time is 10 minutes.”
Uber, on the other hand, uses the GPS in your phone to locate you within 9 feet – and track their cars with the same accuracy. That’s why you show up as a little blue dot on the driver’s map and you can watch your Uber drive toward you.
Guard Llama Bridges the Gap
Now that you understand the challenges faced by 911 dispatchers – how can you turn your Ambulance into an Uber in an emergency? Using Guard Llama to call for help solves the problem because, like Uber, we use enhanced GPS that locates you within 9 feet – including vertical. Police won’t have to search 4 square blocks of buildings to find you – they will know your exact address including which floor. Plus, they get your picture and important medical information.
Get Guard Llama and get help Uber-fast in an emergency!