Enhanced 911

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What Does Enhanced 911 Mean?

Enhanced 911 is a set of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules designed to improve the effectiveness and reliability of wireless 911 services. Enhanced 911 provides 911 dispatchers with additional relevant information regarding wireless 911 calls. With these rules, it is envisioned that a person in an emergency situation will be given faster access to public resources, thus helping to alleviate or resolve the emergency.

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Techopedia Explains Enhanced 911

Enhanced 911 is to be implemented in two phases:

  • Phase I requires wireless carriers to submit the originating telephone number of a wireless 911 call to the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) as well as to submit the location of the cell site or the base station transmitting the call. This set of information has to be submitted no more than 6 months after a valid request has been made by the PSAP.
  • Phase II requires carriers to submit to the PSAP more precise latitude and longitude coordinates. Like the first requirement, this information has to be submitted no more than 6 months after a valid request by the PSAP.

Depending on the technology available, the latitude and longitude coordinates should be accurate to within 50 to 300 meters, as specified in FCC accuracy standards.

The introduction of enhanced 911 is expected to set in motion the development of new technologies, the upgrading of local 911 PSAPs and the enhancement of coordinated efforts among public safety agencies, wireless carriers, technology companies, equipment manufacturers and local wireline carriers.

Two general approaches are being taken to improve the accuracy of determining the location of a distress call. One entails a kind of radio location from the cellular network. The other uses a GPS receiver in the phone itself, now built in to many phones.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.