FCC pushing carriers to report better elevation location for 911 calls

When users place a 911 call on their cellphones, the device is supposed to transmit geolocation data from its A-GPS radio, a more precise and power-consumptive tool than a regular GPS. Now, the FCC wants them to accurately report not just X and Y coordinates, but Z coordinates as well. And they better do it accurately.

The commission is proposing requirements for networks to track vertical location data within 3 meters of a user’s phone (about one story in a typical building) for reporting to emergency services call centers. The rules would scale into effect from April 2021 and would eventually require 80 percent of vertical location reports to be definitively accurate.

This will not just help first responders in getting to the right floor of a building where the incident is occurring, but also let them track callers in hilly or mountainous terrain.

On a side note, carriers have been caught selling live A-GPS data to brokers who have turned them over for a profit to third parties such as bail bondsmen.

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Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.