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In the News

CAPCOG increases location accuracy for wireless 9-1-1 callers

Thursday, May 09, 2019

The CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division has installed new RapidSOS software at nearly all the 10-county region’s public safety answering points (PSAPs) to enhance the ability for emergency telecommunicators to pinpoint a caller’s location. During testing, the mapping technology produced a significantly more accurate location than traditional 9-1-1 location services.

“This technology upgrade gives a better chance of dispatching emergency services directly to a caller’s location even if the caller doesn’t know where they are,” said Melissa Reynolds, CAPCOG 9-1-1 operations coordinator. “This can save responders time and ultimately lead to saving lives.”

RapidSOS’s region-wide implementation in April provides emergency telecommunicators an additional source of caller location information. Telecommunicators still receive carrier-based cell tower location information when a 9-1-1 call is received, but now they see an additional dot on the map when a RapidSOS enabled device places the call. RapidSOS uses a cellphone's GPS if the phone is running iOS12, Android 4 or a higher version of the operating systems on a compatible device to send its location. However, RapidSOS is a best-effort service and may not be available for every 9-1-1 call placed.

CAPCOG has integrated the software with its 9-1-1 call mapping system at every PSAP except those using their own mapping systems — Austin-Travis County Combined Transportation and Emergency Communications Center, Williamson County Emergency Communications and the Round Rock 9-1-1 Center. Those agencies use a web-based version of the tool. Despite having the more accurate location information, CAPCOG continues to train emergency telecommunicators that the most accurate location information often comes from multiple sources, with the best location usually coming directly from the caller.

> Learn more about the Emergency Communications Division.

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