News-Star: Opinion

Your Letters: Allow FCC to improve location accuracy for 9-1-1 calls

It’s time to save more lives

If you or a loved one were in need of emergency help, you’d expect emergency operators to be able to find you when you called 9-1-1. The unfortunate reality for North Carolinians is that a large percentage of calls to 9-1-1 from cell phones are delivered to dispatchers without location information, and the problem is getting worse.

The Federal Communications Commission has moved to update its location-accuracy standards for emergency calls from cell phones, but cell phone companies are standing in the way of this much-needed reform.

The FCC has proposed a rule requiring cell phone providers to update their location-accuracy technology over a two-year period, giving emergency personnel the tools they need to accurately find those who need their help. This technology is activated only when dialing 9-1-1, so this technological upgrade should not create worry about privacy concerns.

The FCC believes that lives can be saved every year by updating these location-accuracy standards. Sadly, the priority of cell phone providers is protecting their bottom line, and they are working to delay the implementation of updated FCC standards as long as they can.

This lack of reliable location-accuracy information costs precious time as emergency responders attempt to locate those who need help. The 9-1-1 system in place for landlines works well. But contrary to what you see on TV or in the movies, calls from cell phones are a different story. If a caller doesn’t know exactly where he or she is, is confused, under attack or otherwise unable to communicate his or her location, 9-1-1 dispatchers might not be able to locate the caller.

The amount of time it takes a dispatcher to attempt to determine a caller’s location could be the difference between life and death. The technology to fix this problem is available, and each day we wait amounts to additional lives lost.

We must end the preventable loss of life and update our location-accuracy standards for wireless calls to 9-1-1. There cannot be any more delay on this lifesaving FCC rules.

Steve Bizzell

Sheriff of Johnston County

Jason Barbour

Johnston County 9-1-1 director