CAPCOG continuously works with all wireless vendors to ensure reliable 9-1-1 call delivery to every PSAP in the region. Because of the mobility of wireless 9-1-1 calls, they present a special challenge to call-takers. 9-1-1 calls from wireless phones do not provide the call-takers with the caller's name and address information automatically in the same manner as a traditional 9-1-1 call. These problems are multiplied when a 9-1-1 caller is unable to speak. A wireless subscriber's address information is not in the 9-1-1 Database. The ability of the subscriber to take the phone anywhere hinders that data in regards to 9-1-1 calls.
There are two types of location information available to PSAPs to handle wireless 9-1-1 calls. Phase I wireless transmits the caller's telephone number and cell-tower information to the dispatcher - this can cover several square miles. The call-taker must ascertain the caller's location through questioning in order to obtain accurate information. Phase II wireless, which delivers the callers location with GPS coordinates in addition to Phase I data, is an enhancement to Phase I wireless. Currently, all CAPCOG PSAPs can process and utilize Wireless Phase II data.
When the call arrives at the PSAP, the caller's location is displayed on the Mapped ALI software. This gives the call-taker a general idea of the caller's location. Environmental and technological factors can prevent the delivery of Phase II data to the PSAP. In that case, the call-taker still has Phase I data to rely upon.
Most GPS phones have the ability to disable the location information through a menu option. This option does not apply to 9-1-1 calls, and the caller's location information will be delivered to the PSAP regardless of this setting, if the data is available.
The ability for texting emergencies to 9-1-1 PSAPs is slowly rolling out around the country, and all wireless providers will be required to offer it by Dec. 31, 2014. The 31 PSAPs in CAPCOG’s 10 county region already have equipment to support text-to-9-1-1 services, and CAPCOG is the planning stages for implementing the program throughout the area. It is anticipated area PSAPs will start responding to text-to-9-1-1 reported emergencies in 2015.
As one of the primary ways people communicate with wireless phones, the ability to text emergencies to 9-1-1 can be helpful. It could be helpful if you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, or if a voice call might otherwise be dangerous or impossible. However, texting 9-1-1 could not automatically supply the call taker with critical information about the caller and emergency, such as a location.
Those who are able should always call 9-1-1.