public safety

Another Advance for Connecticut 911 On Horizon?

New technology could help pinpoint a 911 caller's location if they are unable or unwilling to provide it.

NBCUniversal, Inc.

There is new software coming to Connecticut that could save lives in the case of an emergency.

It can pinpoint a 911 caller’s location and has the potential to save thousands of lives per year by getting first responders to people in distress faster.  

“We need to make that next leap in technology”, said John Elsesser, chair of the state’s Enhanced 911 Commission.

Most 911 systems in our state were built decades ago and designed for landline telephones.

But in 2020, more than two thirds of all 911 calls come from cellphones.

Right now, 911 centers get a decent idea where a cellphone caller is by triangulating the signal from three cellphone towers. That usually narrows where the caller is to a range of about three quarters of a mile.

However, 911 centers that have been using the most advanced software can pinpoint where you are as precisely as what floor you’re on in a building.

Elsesser said the benefits of this technology are enormous.

Take for example a search for a missing person.

“Especially for searches in woods or rural areas, it’s impressive how close they can get,” Elsesser said.

911 centers trying out this new technology include ones in Litchfield, Farmington, Hartford, and Tolland County Dispatch.

Tolland County Dispatch serves 16 communities in eastern Connecticut.

“We’ve had four cases where we’ve actually been able to efficiently route law enforcement to people that couldn’t tell us their location, or were unwilling to provide it”, said Doug Racicot, Tolland County 911’s operations director.

As of now, several dozen 911 centers in Connecticut have been using this software, and the state has been encouraging others to test it out. 

A company called RapidSOS has the most 911 centers in Connecticut using its cellphone tracking software, but other companies have a similar product. 

RapidSOS said it does not charge public safety agencies for it because it already generates revenue from privately held companies like Uber that use its product. 

While the state has encouraged 911 centers to try out RapidSOS, it has not been put in all 911 centers because, at least for now, the state has not put out a formal request for bids on this type of software. 

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