These Real Incidents Tell Why 911 Location Data Is Critical to Emergency Response

Picture of Amelia Marceau By Amelia Marceau


911 location dataPeople who dial into 9-1-1 are often facing dire situations. From medical emergencies to fires to theft, dispatchers are the first line of defense in critical situations. The technological advances over the last decade have improved emergency response, but not all 9-1-1 call centers have access to the necessary technological features. Across the United States, many 9-1-1 dispatchers do not have access to accurate location data, which mobile phone technology has made more difficult to obtain.

Callers are often in crisis mode, and in situations where they may not be able to accurately convey their location to the dispatcher. Even if a caller can talk, they might not know where they are or be in a situation where they have a limited time to express where they might be. So what does a 9-1-1 call taker do when they don’t have an accurate read on a caller’s location?  

Why is Location Important for a 9-1-1 Call?

When 9-1-1 call takers have your location, the chance of a speedy response time increases. In a situation where seconds matter, it is absolutely necessary for cell phone location data to be available to dispatchers. However, not all 9-1-1 centers are equipped to find a cell phone’s location. Many dispatch centers were created to answer and respond to calls from landlines, and the technology has not been updates to accommodate the rapid rise of mobile phones. 

It took until 2018, nearly 50 years after the 9-1-1 system was created, for call centers to catch up with the rapid technology growth, and even then most centers lack the necessary upgrades and tools to respond to calls as quickly as possible.  

Reasons 9-1-1 Call Takers Don't Receive Location Data 

When you call 9-1-1 from a mobile device, the dispatcher does not see your actual location. If you are unable to provide accurate location information, the call-taker will have to ask the wireless phone carrier for the data, which will come from a cell tower. Not only does this exchange dramatically slow down response, the data provided could put you miles away from where you actually are. Biggest 9-1-1 Trends Webinar

Rave 911 Suite and with RapidSOS Integration

Next Generation 911 tools are providing first responders with the critical they need. Rave’s 911 Suite features an integration with RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse to optimize how 9-1-1 can quickly and securely access device location. This next generation technology can help save millions of lives. Android and iOS phones will send fast and accurate device location to the RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse when a user dials 9-1-1. This is part of the phone’s Operating System – you do not need to take any additional steps for their location to be shared during a 9-1-1 call. No app or profile needed. The location will be immediately available in the Rave 911 Suite along with the ALI location. 

The RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse location displayed by Rave 911 Suite does not impact the data call taker’s currently receive. The data is present with ALI location and any other Rave-sourced location information available. The tool is proved to make a difference in situations where location data is needed for rapid response. 

Get Started On Your Smart911 Profile: Download the App Today!

How Location Data Makes an Impact 

An ATV Crash and an Averted Wildfire

Grand Traverse, Michigan 

A local 9-1-1 communication center in Grand Traverse, Michigan, received a call that an ATV had caught fire in the woods and was quickly spreading across the grass and into the trees. The vehicle was not in a common area and the caller did not know their location. The caller’s phone location was proving unreliable. The 9-1-1 team was able to utilize Rave 911 Suite with integrated RapidSOS technology to accurately pinpoint the caller. The location data was vital for 9-1-1 Telecommunicators to direct first responders to the incident. Without an accurate location, response time would have been seriously affected and a bigger issue could have developed. 

A 911 Call From a Person Who Is Deaf

Kent County, Grand Rapids, Michigan 

A concerned father from out-of-state called 9-1-1 stating his son had been involved in a car accident in Michigan. The man’s son was deaf and unable to call 9-1-1 himself for help. The father was unsure of his son’s location but was able to tell local telecommunicator, Jessica Arntz, the general area he believed the accident was. Ms. Arntz was able to initiate a text chat with the son through their Rave 911 Suite application. From there, Ms. Arntz was able to confirm with the son where the accident was. The son’s location was not where his father had thought-- he was actually in the county over from the father’s estimation. After verifying the location of the accident, the incident was turned over to the proper neighborhood for the response. A delay of any sort could have resulted in serious injury, especially in the late January weather.

You can never know when an emergency might strike. Having accurate and up-to-date information can give 9-1-1 call takers necessary resources to respond quickly and accurately to any emergency which may arise.

Rave 911 Suite Emergency Response

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Amelia Marceau

Written by Amelia Marceau

Amelia is a marketing intern at Rave. She loves to write about anything safety related. When she’s away from the keyboard, you’ll either find her playing with her dog, ice skating, or competing in a triathlon. Amelia attends the University of Massachusetts Amherst, majoring in Political Science and Journalism.


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Rave 911 Suite Emergency Response

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