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Venable partner and retired Navy Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett was quoted in Government Security News and Government Technology on February 25, 2014 about the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) plans to address wireless 911 location accuracy. The FCC is proposing rules requiring wireless carriers to provide horizontal location information within 50 meters for 67 percent of indoor wireless emergency calls within two years. That number would jump to 80 percent in five years. Admiral Barnett serves as director of the Find Me 911 Coalition which represents 911 personnel and first responders concerned about failures in the wireless 911 system.

“Too many wireless 9-1-1 calls lack fast and accurate location information, and emergency personnel often cannot locate those callers in need, Admiral Barnett told Government Security News. “Every dropped call or confused, scared, or unconscious caller is another unnecessary tragedy.”

Addressing concerns about technology limitations to achieve the FCC’s goals, Admiral Barnett told Government Technology that the technology for horizontal indoor location “definitely exists” and with minor improvements could be accurate to within 50 meters. He believes the improvements will come quickly now that the FCC is eyeing rule changes. “In some ways, the FCC is challenging industry to come forward with these solutions,” Admiral Barnett added. “But really I think it will focus on current technology that already exists and bringing it forward. If they’re able to achieve that and show over these next few months that that can be instituted within three years and 80 percent within five years, that’ll be a huge step forward for public safety.”

Moving forward, Admiral Barnett said he believes the FCC will fast track the rule making process and issue final rules by the end of the year. Noting the wireless industry is “obviously concerned” about the costs of new technology, he said if they want the nations to go wireless, “then when people have an emergency, they need to be assured help can find them when they call 911.”