How people call 911 will continue to evolve over time (the original model never imagined cell phones, wifi and Internet lines). Due to these changes, the Public Safety industry spends considerable time and effort searching for a technology solution to the challenge of locating every 911 call’s incident location, but with rapid changes in cell phone and Internet communications, technology has so far failed to keep pace with the changes. These pursuits should not come at the expense of focusing on the call handling process itself.
Simply put: there will always be a necessary role for call handlers to process and verify any incident location information gathered.
The State of Address Verification
When examining the state of address verification on 911 calls, two things are abundantly clear: first, that verbal confirmation from a caller is still, by far, the most reliable method for determining an incident’s location, and second, that communications technology will continue to evolve faster than 911 technology, perpetuating the need for newer and more elaborate tracking technology.
At what pace are cell phone companies moving to create the technology necessary to locate every 911 call? “The current FCC rules call for delivery of location data for 40% of calls by 2017 and 80% of calls by 2021.” Meaning that in the best-case scenario (if the Public Safety industry waits for technological solutions to address verification) would still leave as many as 20% of calls without accurate location data five years from now.
And what does the state of address verification currently look like? The chances of getting a “quick fix” location vary widely throughout the country and can range from as low as 10% to as high as 95%, according to a joint review by USA Today and more than forty Gannet newspaper and TV news outlets.
This disparity is evident when comparing Colorado and California location transmition data: In 2015, 58% of Colorado’s 5.8 million cellphone-to-911 calls transmitted location coordinates compared to only 37% of California’s cellphone-to-911 calls. These numbers are typical of other parts of the country such as Fairfax County, Virginia in 2014 (25%) and only one-third of calls in Texas’ major cities.
Sheriff David Shoar, on behalf of the Florida Sheriff’s Association, put it best in his letter to the FCC: “It is now easier than ever for victims to reach 911, but harder than ever for responders to reach them.” And, unfortunately, many police and fire chiefs fear that, with the increasing proportion of calls coming from cellphone networks, the problem will get worse before it gets better.
Putting Your Call Handlers First
It can be overwhelming for PSAPs to develop their own geovalidation standard when such vast disparities exist between states and agencies. We’re focused on helping your call handlers provide the best possible service to the caller reaching out for help right now. Simply put, that means starting with the call handlers themselves.
A new feature in our CACH software streamlines the incoming call process by allowing agencies to start calls directly in CACH. Using this feature, call handlers have immediate access to protocols even while verifying the incident location. Our geovalidation feature also makes full use of CACH’s open API allowing us to reduce the number of data transfer points without losing any of the data pulled in from the telecommunications network.
In addition to reducing the number of communication points between your CAD and CACH, our geovalidation feature also eliminates the standard delay to providing your 911 call handlers with the call-handling prompts and protocols necessary to begin providing the best call-handling service to every call. This increases overall call-handling consistency and provides the community with a more reliable (and reviewable) standard.
PowerPhone is dedicated to providing the highest quality tools and process in the public safety industry. Incorporating geovalidation into CACH is one more way to provide your agency with the flexibility to meet your community’s unique standard of care for 911 call handling.
Are you ready to learn more about geovalidation and Total Response CACH?
Sign up for a personalized online demonstration today!