All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward

November 23, 2021


As we have discussed previously, our industry is exploring various technologies to acquire better location accuracy during an emergency mobile call. It’s changing, and trying to adapt.

When everyone had a landline registered by their telephone company to a physical residential address, finding a 9-1-1 or 112 caller’s location was relatively straightforward. This was described as a dispatchable address, and represented (according to the FCC) as:

“…a location delivered to the PSAP with a 9-1-1 call that consists of the validated street address of the calling party, plus additional information such as suite, apartment, or similar information necessary to adequately identify the location of the calling party.”

Global mobile device subscriptions will exceed 17 billion by 2024, and currently over 80% of emergency calls are made from a mobile device. With the evolving market of mobile telephony, VoIP (voice over internet protocol, such as Skype, Zoom), swathes of multi-line enterprise telephone systems (such as office spaces) and huge urban/downtown multi-storey developments/condominiums etc., securing an accurate mobile phone location is now significantly more complicated.

PSAPs in the majority countries/ states/ provinces/ districts/counties still use combinations of cell tower triangulation, GPS and sometimes Wi-Fi to narrow down their search if the caller isn’t sure where they are. Yet, these changes to assist in locating a caller remain extremely imperfect, especially for urban and indoor locations (including multi-level and/or underground buildings), or private network spaces like school campuses. Once you are calling from inside an environment like this, you become almost invisible to the emergency operator or dispatcher. If you don’t disclose your location verbally, they are left to estimate…which literally means guess.

As mentioned before, mobile location accuracy statistically varies between 5-95% (which is unnervingly huge) since it includes location inaccuracies inside environments like an office tower or apartment building. And if you move off ground level, you still appear, to the PSAP and Responders, to be on the ground level…this is not ideal.

Dispatchable location, as the name describes, means the location which allows emergency crews to be “dispatched” and to get there on time. It’s verifiable location data and should be provided with high-level detail and confidence. We call it, “the door to knock on” because that’s what it is. It’s not the door to your apartment building, or your neighbor’s door 3 doors down, it would be your door.

Our industry is changing, but our movement towards providing more accurate location is not advanced as it could be, or should be. Not yet.

Thank you

The EML (Emergency Mobile Location) methodology provides an “actual door to knock on”. It is the vital location tool that will support, improve, and drive the Emergency Service Industry into its requirement for delivering dispatchable address and Next Generation Services.

It’s about putting the right information into the right hands, so more lives are saved.

If you’d like to learn more about EML, you can find a demonstration video here: