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New 911 partnership between Google and T-Mobile could save your life

By 2021, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will require all carriers to locate callers to within 50 meters at least 80 percent of the time.

Ambulance google t-mobile rapidsos emergency response
Image: Unsplash

Google and T-Mobile have teamed up to improve 911 by making it easier for emergency call operators to pinpoint a caller’s exact location. The move comes as wireless devices now make 80 percent or more of 911 calls placed in some parts of the United States, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Unlike landlines that can deliver an exact address, cell phones have typically only registered an estimated location that can be as wide as a few hundred yards. This difference can quickly lead to a life and death situation where seconds count.

What the partnership means

Under the new partnership, most T-Mobile customers on Android-based machines will now send location data from Google’s emergency location services via the carrier. In locations where RapidSOS is being used, Android users will carry the information there.

Jim Lake, director at the Charleston County Consolidated 9-1-1 Center, which participated in a pilot of Google’s emergency location services, says it makes it easier to find people who didn’t know their location.

He explains, “On a day-to-day basis, most people know where they are, but when they don’t, usually those are the most horrifying calls, and we need to know right away.”

Apple emergency phone feature

Source: Apple

Google is catching up to Apple

Last June, we told you about Apple’s plan to automatically share your location with first responders thanks to its new partnership with RapidSOS. With the recently released iOS 12, iPhones are equipped to send your exact location to a RapidSOS dispatcher, which will then send this information to a local responder. In doing so, ambulances and paramedics should have an easier time finding you during an emergency.

Currently, the RapidSOS technology is active in over 1,000 of the more than 5,700 911 centers nationwide and is available to all of them at no charge.

By 2021, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will require carriers to locate callers to within 50 meters at least 80 percent of the time.

After Apple took the lead, it’s great seeing Google also getting on board to make the U.S. 911 system better.

What do you think, is this a good use of technology or do you worry about location services being used for less-that-help scenarios? Let us know below. 

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Bryan considers himself a well-rounded techie, having written articles for MakeUseOf, KnowTechie, AppAdvice, iDownload Blog. When he's not writing, he's being a single dad and rooting for his alma mater, Penn State, or cheering on the Patriots.

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