FCC Examines Location-Based Routing for Wireless 9-1-1 Calls

The Federal Communications Commission launched an examination into the state of technology that can more precisely route wireless 9-1-1 calls to the proper 9-1-1 call center, resulting in faster response times during emergencies.

Wireless 9-1-1 calls typically get routed to 9-1-1 call centers based on the location of the cell tower that handles the call. But in some cases—for example, if a 9-1-1 call originates near a county or a city border—the nearest cell tower may be in a neighboring jurisdiction.

In these cases, the call could go to a 9-1-1 call center in that neighboring jurisdiction, not the call center that serves the caller’s location. These wireless 9-1-1 calls must then be re-routed to the proper 9-1-1 call center, which can waste valuable time and resources during emergencies.

According to the FCC:

In a Public Notice adopted today, the Commission is therefore seeking updated information on improvements to and implementation of location-based routing technologies; the frequency of misrouted wireless 911 calls; operations or industry standards to address the problem of misroutes; the feasibility of using location-based routing technologies for text-to-911; information on any interdependencies of location-based routing and Next Generation 911 in order to optimize emergency response; and how the Commission can facilitate improvements to wireless 911 call routing.

Maryland residents demand and expect 9-1-1 emergency services to be reliable and efficient. Next-generation technology is required to keep up with this increasingly complex public safety function – improving wireless caller location, accommodating incoming text/video, and managing crisis-driven call overflows.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Commission to Advance NG911 across Maryland, a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative, was established to update state laws and the 9-1-1 financing system to provide the flexibility and resources needed for the deployment of a statewide NG911 system. In 2019, the General Assembly passed landmark legislation to update state laws and the 9-1-1 financing system to provide the flexibility and resources needed to deploy a statewide NG911 system.

The Commission includes 9-1-1 directors, technology and telecommunications industry representatives, cybersecurity professionals, a bipartisan group of legislators, and other stakeholders to assure a smooth and equitable transition to NG911.

As a result of the Commission’s work, Maryland passed several laws to bolster the framework and resources to guide a successful statewide transition to NG911, enhancing public safety communications in Maryland and in our local communities.

MACo also successfully supported legislation to designate the Maryland Department of Emergency Management (formerly the Maryland Emergency Management Agency) as a Cabinet-level entity and transfer the 9-1-1 Board from the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to the Maryland Department of Emergency Management (MDEM), as a fully autonomous agency.

Visit the FCC website for more information.