During the trial, a ‘random sample of 911 callers using an Android smartphone’ had their devices’ location data sent directly to dispatchers.
A new Google system may shave precious seconds off the amount of time it takes emergency responders to locate those who call 911 from a cell phone.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the web giant trialed this new system in several states including Texas, Tennessee, and Florida during December and January with “promising” results.
Normally, when you call 911 from a cell phone, your wireless carrier is responsible for sharing your whereabouts with operators. But the location information they send isn’t always precise, which can make it difficult for emergency responders to find you.
Public safety officials, in an effort to improve response times, have been pushing Google and Apple to share smartphone location data with 911 for years, the report notes. Now, Google may be getting ready to do that.
During the trial, a “random sample of 911 callers using an Android smartphone” had their devices’ location data sent directly to dispatchers, according to the report. The test reportedly covered “tens of thousands of 911 calls.”
“Location data in more than 80 percent of the 911 calls using Google’s technology were more accurate than the carrier data in the first 30 seconds of a call,” the Journal reported, citing a startup called RapidSOS, which assisted with the trial. “Google’s data provided an average location estimate radius of 121 feet… while carrier data averaged 522 feet. Carrier data also took longer to reach 911 centers.”
Google did not immediately respond to PCMag’s request for comment about the trial.
This week marked the 50th anniversary of the first call made to 911. These days, more than 70 percent of 911 calls come from wireless devices, according to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.