The Federal Communications Commission wants it to be easier to find people who call 911.
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In a statement, the agency said it adopted new rules that will make it easier for first responders to locate people in multistory buildings who call 911 on their cellphone.
The rules could help officials determine callers’ floor level, reducing emergency response times. It adopts a vertical location accuracy metric of plus or minus 3 meters relative to the caller’s handset and is reliable for about 80 percent of indoor calls.
“This accuracy metric … will identify the floor level for most 911 calls,” the FCC said, “keeping deployment of vertical location information to public safety officials on schedule.”
Already, the agency said, a number of public safety organizations have emphasized their support for the measure. That includes the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Association of State EMS Officials and numerous vendors as well as numerous wireless providers who agreed “it is technically feasible and will benefit public safety.”
The new metric is part of a bigger effort for the FCC to improve its Enhanced 911 rules, which require wireless providers to transmit information on the location of wireless 911 calls to emergency call centers. Wireless providers, the agency said, are being required to meet an increasingly stringent series of location accuracy benchmarks that provide caller’s dispatchable location, including the street address and apartment number.
AT&T and Verizon Wireless, two of the largest wireless carries in the United States, did not immediately respond to a request for comment for FOX Business.
In a statement, however, wireless industry advocate CITA, said called the move a priority.
"Since 2015, wireless providers have invested millions to harness innovative location solutions that deliver better location information for our public safety professionals to do their jobs of saving lives more effectively and safely, every day.
"The FCC reaffirmed that delivering accurate vertical location information is the next frontier of commercial and public safety solutions. The wireless industry will continue our ongoing efforts to test solutions that can deliver the reliable and accurate information that public safety professionals expect for 911 calls, and we are ready to work to meet the challenge."
While the rule is meant to get emergency services more quickly to those in need, though, it does come amid a wave of public concern on data privacy. In September, for example, social media giant Facebook announced it would get rid of its tag-suggestions feature, which used facial recognition to identify photos of you and suggest that your friends tag you in them.