FCC Votes on Rules Designed to Find 911 Callers Inside Buildings

The FCC voted to approve rules designed to help first responders to more quickly locate people who call 911 inside multi-story buildings.

November 22, 2019

2 Min Read

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Federal Communications Commission today adopted rules that will help first responders locate people who call 911 from wireless phones in multi-story buildings. The rules will help emergency responders determine the floor level of a 911 caller, which will reduce emergency response times and ultimately save lives.

Today's action builds on the Commission's efforts to improve its Enhanced 911 rules, which require wireless providers to transmit to 911 call centers information on the location of wireless 911 calls. The rules require wireless providers to meet an increasingly stringent series of location accuracy benchmarks in accordance with a timetable, including providing the caller's dispatchable location, such as the street address and apartment number, or coordinate-based vertical location on a phased-in basis beginning in April 2021.

Today's Order adopts a vertical, or z-axis, location accuracy metric of plus or minus three meters relative to the handset for 80% of indoor wireless 911 calls. This accuracy metric—within three meters above or below the phone—will more accurately identify the floor level for most 911 calls and is achievable, keeping the deployment of vertical location information to public safety officials on schedule.

In addition, given the likelihood that vertical location technology will continue to improve, the Commission is also seeking comment on establishing a long-term timeline for even more stringent vertical location accuracy, including ultimately requiring wireless providers to deliver the caller's specific floor level.

A broad cross-section of public safety organizations—including the International Association of Fire Fighters, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Association of State EMS Officials, the National Sheriffs' Association, NENA: The 9-1-1 Association, and the National Association of State 911 Administrators—as well as numerous vendors and wireless providers supported the three-meter vertical location accuracy metric adopted today, agreeing that it is technically feasible and will benefit public safety.


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