November 13, 2013

FierceWireless editorial quotes Jamie Barnett on need to improve wireless 911 location tracking

2 min

Venable partner and retired Navy Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett was quoted in a November 12, 2013 FierceWireless editorial on the need to improve location data of 911 calls made from mobile devices. Despite federal rules dating back to 2006 requiring wireless carriers to provide 911 operators with specific latitude and longitude coordinates, within 300 meters, of mobile 911 calls, mounting evidence shows it is not happening. The issue gained steam this past summer when the California Chapter of the National Emergency Number Association (CalNENA) claimed more than 55% of 1.6 million wireless calls in California in March 2013 did not have accurate location data.

According to Admiral Barnett, who serves as director of the Find Me 911 Coalition, it is difficult to obtain national data on the problem but his group plans to release data for several cities and states similar to CalNENA’s. “Some have tried to blame the 911 operators, but that is a diversion from the impact of these data, and it is not fair to the 911 professionals,” Admiral Barnett said in a statement. “This cannot simply be chalked up to 'rebidding' to request location information again during the call. A 911 operator shouldn't have to wait and rebid and wait and rebid to hope they eventually get accurate location information.”

Admiral Barnett said his group is not looking to place blame, but rather pushing to expand existing rules to include more accurate location technology to help 911 operators locate wireless callers even in a skyscraper. “Someone needs to fix this stuff,” he added.