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Why Uber Can Find You But 911 Can't

Discussion in 'EMS-Related News' started by Remi, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. Remi

    Remi Forum Deputy Chief Premium Member

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  2. DrParasite

    DrParasite The fire extinguisher is not just for show

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    I'm not WSJ subscriber, so I couldn't read the entire article, but I know this isn't anything new

    http://fox2now.com/2016/10/27/why-911-cant-always-find-you-but-uber-can/

    http://kutv.com/news/local/911-fatal-flaw

    https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/news/the-411-on-911-why-help-might-not-be-on-the-way/

    However, the answer is pretty simple: the 911 system relies on older, more reliable technology (note: I said reliable, not accurate), to track locations (via cell tower pings), while uber uses the phone's GPS and data connection.

    The 911 system was also designed for landlines, which is why if you call 911, your address should come up on the screen, because it's all entered into a database. with cell phones, there is wireless I & II standards, which means the 911 system may receive the call back number, but it's up to the phone provider if it's sent (prepaid phones are the worst at this as well as older phones). Location is another problem. the 911 system tracks locations based on cell towers, because the cell tower should ALWAYS be able to find out what tower you are calling from. And even if you don't say a word for the 911 dispacher, they should be able to get your location and call back number.

    Uber takes your data (which it receives from your phone, assuming you allow the app to access your location), and sends it to the driver, still allowing realtime updates, even after you have requested the service. if you turn off your GPS, can uber find you? what if you have GPS on, but a poor data connection? what if your in the boonies, where there is only 1G coverage? What if your phone's battery dies midway through the calls? uber is definitely more reliable, until it's not. Than what do you do?
     
    Jim37F likes this.
  3. Summit

    Summit Critical Crazy

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    Upgrade your 911 data center to Phase II E911. Viola. Now your dispatchers get the caller's wireless phone GPS data at the press of a button when they call 911.

    Do you have a way to plot that at the call center or send it to the responding units to plot? Or are you reading coordinates so responders have to plug them into their personal phones ;)

    SAR does far fewer true searches these days due to cell phones (and Phase II).
     
  4. DrParasite

    DrParasite The fire extinguisher is not just for show

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    That's not how it works all the time. most dispatch centers are phase 2 E911 capable; however not all phones are phase 2, nor do all carriers send phase 2 all the time. not only that, but even with phase II, you don't always get the exact location; you get coordinates and a % confidence level. So it's not an issue that the 911 center can fix.

    Now, you can request more accurate numbers from the carrier. per FCC rules, wireless network operators must provide the latitude and longitude of callers within 300 meters, within six minutes of a request by a PSAP. but a 300 meter radius is a pretty large area, and 6 minutes can make a difference between where they were when they called and where they are when emergency responders arrive.

    when I worked in the 911 center, we didn't have the technology to do it. Although I do know of other centers that did. Since I have relocated, I did watch my local PSAP take a 911 call from a cell phone caller, and within seconds dump it into a map of where she was located.

    Also remember, those coordinates don't update, so while you might get close to the original location, that doesn't mean that you will find them there, especially if they are lost and walking and you have been on the phone with them for an hour.

    As I said before, uber can find you because you are always giving an updated location, so their driver simply needs to follow the updated map. I don't know of any 911 centers that get updated locations from callers after they disconnect.
     
  5. Summit

    Summit Critical Crazy

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    Almost all phones are compatible. The old incompatible ones went away when analog was killed.

    The FCC has required carriers to have >95% of their in service phones to be location compatible since 2005!

    FCC requires <300m >90% of the time and <100m >67% of the time

    In the backcountry, it is usually pretty good, but sometimes way off. Uber wouldn't be any better in the poor location situations because usually it is also associated with poor connectivity.

    Heck, even a 406MHz PLB can 100s of meters off with non-realtime updates... and even 2mi off when the GPS isn't locking. The old 121.5MHz beacons were off by 5 miles in the mountains.

    You can rerun the phase 2 when they call back in. We usually instruct people to hang up, conserve battery, and call back in at intervals if they have service. We usually instruct people to stay put unless we are using phase 2 to give them directions (which also prevents a lot of searches).
     
  6. Jim37F

    Jim37F Forum Deputy Chief

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    One of the differences between Uber and 911 is that with Uber you are typing in the address so that helps (notice helps not eliminated) dispatchers mis-hearing or you not knowing how to pronounce the street name and say it in such a way as to say another streets name accidentally, plus the Uber app includes a map of where your address is located when you input (and/or you can manually move the pick up icon to wherever you need it so you don't even need the exact official address).

    With 911 you don't have that graphical interface to confirm location before sending it to Uber, you're literally playing a game of telephone with another person who can't see you or where your at....when you think about it that way, it's actually kind of amazing to realize just how accurate and reliable 911 is. Maybe with Text-to-911 programs being rolled out, that will be the next step, a graphical map interface...?

    But I do some Uber-ing (the Uber Eats delivery service, so i pick up food from a restaurant then take it to the customers selected drop off site) on the side (can't pick up any OT while in training lol) and can tell you...some people are bleeping idiots when inputting their address. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten a street address only...and found a high rise with commercial shops on the first floor with the residential entrance off to the side and around back and the customer seems confused (or irritated) that I don't magically know how exactly to get to their individual apartment on the 17th floor with nothing but a street address or other similar frustrations....so having an actual 911 dispatcher trained to ask such clarifying questions (and a CAD to remember such address peculiarities) makes it's own difference as well.
     
  7. DrParasite

    DrParasite The fire extinguisher is not just for show

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    I'm sorry, but that's simply not true. From http://www.govtech.com/dc/articles/...gies-to-Quickly-Locate-Cellphone-Callers.html
    Most new phones are compatible, but there are still a LOT of older model phones that are still in use.
    yes, I know what the FCC required, but the simple fact is that is doesn't happen (and yes, some companies have been fined).

    In 2009, 55% of all calls to 911 in California didn't have phase 2 information. in 2013, in Ventura county, out of 87,000 wireless 911 calls, 50% didn't have Phase 2 information, what was required by the FCC source: http://www.calnena.org/communications/To-FCC-08-12-2013/CALNENA-Letter-to-FCC-081213.pdf

    In Nov 2013, in texas, researchers found that 2/3 of all wireless 911 calls didn't have phase two info https://www.fiercewireless.com/wire...getting-cell-phone-location-data-who-to-blame

    And some more reading for you:
    https://www.ems1.com/technology/art...atchers-know-where-you-are-when-you-dial-911/
    Out of curiosity, have you ever worked in a 911 center? I know you do SAR, but it's a lot different when you are in the 911 center. You seem to know alot of "theory", and how stuff is supposed to work, vs how it actually works.
    That's assuming their phone can receive phone calls (many phones without service are used to call 911 only), people follow directions given to them by dispatch, and they remember to call back after 10-30 minutes of waiting and no help arriving.
     
    Summit likes this.
  8. Summit

    Summit Critical Crazy

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    Excellent practical points I don't get to see as my AO is an usual case (and no I don't work dispatch, just hang out with them and benefit from their phase II)
     
  9. johnrsemt

    johnrsemt Forum Deputy Chief

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    Plus the GPS isn't always that accurate: I was dispatched along with Fire, PD and security to search a section of the Military base I work on in NW Utah for an overturned vehicle. Section was about 10 miles square.
    Talking to other responders we were trying to figure how anyone got there to be able to wreck their car. Call came in from OnStar.
    OnStar pinged the car multiple times kept getting our location. and person they were talking to in the car was giving a description of what she could see that almost matched our area.
    Finally we were cancelled OnStar pinged the car again and it came up 8 miles NW of Ely NV, almost 200 miles away from us. Responders from Ely found her within 15 minutes of being dispatched.
     
  10. DrParasite

    DrParasite The fire extinguisher is not just for show

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