Can 911 Track Your Cell Phone Location?

If you're like the majority of Americans, you own a cell phone and carry it with you wherever you go.

Whether you use it's your phone’s Global Positioning System (GPS) to get directions, track your fitness or simply enjoy the convenience of having a phone with you in case of an emergency, cell phones have made our lives easier.

Yet, when an emergency arises, most cellphone owners aren’t aware that even though your phone has GPS, 911 operators are often unable to determine the exact location of your call, even when inside your own home.

This fatal flaw can add a level of confusion and complexity to an emergency call often resulting in delays in responders reaching you in your time of need.

“"An estimated 10,000 people each year would be saved with accurate location standards from indoor cellphone calls," cites an FCC estimate for the number of lives that could be saved by a one-minute reduction in emergency response times. 

So, how is this possible, in an age where apps such as Facebook, Google and more can access your mobile phone’s location while critical services like 911 are left blind?

That reasons lies within how both modern mobile phones and 911 call centers are set up.  While most phones have GPS, voice calls often rely on location data being sent via the cellphone network and their towers.  This can result in long delays in providing a 911 call center location data, or in many instances, no location data at all.

“Today's cellphone system does not automatically send location data when you dial 911. After the call comes in, the dispatcher's computer transmits a digital request to the cellphone network seeking the phone's location. The data exchange can take seconds or even minutes. Sometimes, it doesn't return a location at all.” - USA Today

This is further complicated due to the fact that while phones have made large technological advances in terms of size, power and the ability to use GPS, the technology most 911 call centers were designed for has not.

“...most 911 centers determine a mobile caller’s location based on technology that was adopted two decades ago — before cellphones were equipped with GPS. So, instead of obtaining location information directly from the phone, the 911 center estimates the caller’s location based on which cell tower is in use.” - Fox News

Sadly, delays in location data isn’t the only flaw with modern cell phones.  In many cases, even when 911 dispatch is able to ascertain your mobile phone’s location, it can be wrong.

“During a supervised test, a Fox News reporter dialed 911 from his cellphone. Although he placed the call while standing next to a 911 operator inside the Alpharetta center, her computer screen showed the address of a cell tower more than one mile away.” - Fox News

Ensuring that 911 knows your location

Reading this, you may be left wondering “Will I receive help if I use my cell phone to call 911?” and what are your options to ensure that 911 knows your location in the event of an emergency?

The solution is relying on a trusted medical alert service like MobileHelp which is built on GPS technology that ensures 911 responders will be given both the details of your emergency and your exact, GPS-issued location. 

 This proven and trusted technology constantly updates your location information by sending it to your mobile device. When you press the help button attached to your  MobileHelp bracelet, pendant or mobile device, your latest location will be sent to our emergency response center. This information is sent immediately and includes the  following:

   >Your pinpoint GPS location allowing 911 responders to automatically know exactly where you are, with confidence.

   >Your unique customer ID allowing 911 operators to know exactly who you are.

While mobile phones may provide convenience, MobileHelp aims to provide an unmatched peace-of-mind. 

Learn more about how MobileHelp can ensure 911 responders receive your exact GPS location or which MobileHelp medical alert system is right for you.

 

 

 

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