Google and T-Mobile combine to give U.S. 911 operators a better idea where callers are located
According to Google, 80% of 911 emergency calls come from a mobile phone. That leads to a major problem facing 911 operators, which is the ability to pinpoint the location of the caller. The technology employed at emergency call centers is just not good at giving dispatchers an exact address where they need to send EMT or police when an emergency call comes in from a cellphone.
Google addressed this issue a couple of years ago by launching Emergency Location Service (ELS) for Android phones. ELS uses GPS, Wi-Fi, cell networks and sensors to give call centers a faster, more accurate idea of where a 911 caller is located. In fact, it is the same combination of technology used on Google Maps. ELS is now used in 14 countries and on 140,000 calls a day to quickly roll out help to those in emergency situations.
Today, in conjunction with RapidSOS, T-Mobile and West, Google announced that it is bringing ELS to the U.S. ELS data will be sent to emergency call centers through the RapidSOS platform. In tests using RapidSOS, 911 call centers were able to decrease the "uncertainty radius" on an average call from 522 feet to 121 feet. ELS also helped emergency responders locate a non-English speaking 911 caller who couldn't relay her location, and even found a caller who had given the wrong address to the 911 operator.
Available on 99% of Android handsets (Android 4.0 and higher), ELS is now integrated into T-Mobile's 911 system to help locate emergency callers on the T-Mobile network faster and with more accuracy. In addition, Android users of regional carrier Viya in the U.S. Virgin Islands will also benefit from the ELS system.
For those worried about privacy, Google says ELS data is only seen by emergency service providers and a caller's location is not seen by any Google employee.