PARTNER FEATURE: The ability to quickly, accurately and reliably determine the location of an emergency services call from a cell phone can be a matter of life and death. Mobile emergency calls tend to take longer to process than landline calls and around 300,000 victims experience delays of at least 30 minutes in the EU every year due to a lack of accurate information about the caller location, as reported in the Help112 study published by the European Emergency Number Association. (EENA) in 2017 (including later in this article). Ideally, the locate process will be fully automated as speed is critical in an emergency and any human interaction will slow down the locate process.

With an overwhelming majority of emergency calls, over 80% in the EU, made on mobile phones, many countries have mandated Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to provide emergency caller location service . Regulatory compliance for emergency caller location is an effective driver for the deployment of location technology. Even today, however, there are MNOs without proper solutions, and one such culprit was fined $19.5 million for non-compliance as recently as 2021.

EU MNOs were mandated at the turn of this century to provide a caller’s cellular ID to emergency services. The process of obtaining the Cell ID is well understood, but even today it is not always implemented. Moreover, in dense urban areas, cell locations cover more than 500 meters, and remote areas can be up to 35 kilometers. Better accuracy can help reduce rescue times, increase survival rates and save billions in emergency response costs. Enter Advanced Mobile Location (AML).

What is Advanced Mobile Location?
AML, originally designed by BT (UK) with Creativity Software (now part of SS8 Networks) as an advisor, combines network and device-based technologies. Using GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems), cellular ID information and Wi-Fi, AML was for some time considered the easiest and fastest method to implement location technology. precision for emergency services. When someone dials 999, 911 or 112, the phone goes into emergency mode, all normal control rules are overridden, which means that even if a privacy-conscious caller has disabled things like than GNSS, AML can ignore it, access the data and share it with emergency services.

EENA’s HELP112 project and report reveals real-world scenarios that demonstrate the critical benefits of greater accuracy in emergency services and found that an average of 30 seconds can be saved on every mobile emergency call , and more than 1.5 minutes on average in rural environments.

During a live AML trial in Lithuania, a seven-year-old boy found his father unconscious and called emergency services but did not know where he was. The Cell ID location gave the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) a 14 km radius, but through the trial, high-accuracy AML data was available. This enabled the ambulance to be dispatched without delay to reach and treat the patient for a crisis, thereby saving a life that would likely have been lost otherwise.

AML is an innovative technology, but it is not and should not be deployed as the only solution. Due to the device and various environmental factors, pinpointing an accurate location may be between 40% and 60% successful for AML-enabled calls – which can sometimes mean that it does not pass location information to the PSAP in time, if at all.

Most PSAPs would like a locate success rate above 50%, especially in life-threatening emergencies. Even though AML has helped advance the location of emergency services, there are still two challenges to overcome, namely the reliance on GNSS and Wi-Fi. In dense urban areas with tall buildings, the reliability of GNSS is reduced. AML relies on Wi-Fi in these areas, but it is an open source resource with no real auditing for the location of Wi-Fi nodes.

Next-generation technology and regulatory roadmap
AML offers a significant improvement over the old cell identification level accuracy. But a 50% success rate (and slow response times) are still less than ideal. The industry, led by the US FCC, is pushing for the 80th percentile, i.e. over 80% of all emergency calls should provide a dispatchable location (error <50m) to the PSAP. SS8 combines both mobile network and handset data with intelligent logic and patented location algorithms, to produce the highest possible accuracy and reliability. The more information you can provide to the engine, the more accurate your location result will be.

So, since we have the technology to provide faster and more accurate location information, what’s stopping MNOs from deploying it? When it comes to investing in the network, MNOs have two key considerations, commercial and regulatory. Localization falls into both categories, but regulatory requirements are undeniably the main driver.

The next major localization regulatory requirement is currently being consulted in Europe. EU MNOs have been invited to provide feedback on how they can improve the location accuracy of emergency services by the end of 2023. It is expected that the EU and then national governments , will take feedback into account and make it mandatory to provide high-accuracy location solutions. to emergency services, leaving it up to mobile network operators to deploy technology to match, or face massive fines, as in the $19.5 million case cited above.

In recent conversations that SS8 has had with MNOs, governments, and law enforcement agencies, one thing has become clear: there are a lot of education needs with regards to available technology that can provide the high-precision, reliable location that these organizations depend on. The value of this technology is demonstrable and measurable, as it has been deployed across much of North America and parts of Latin America.

Integrate Location Deployment with 5G Deployment
Persuading MNOs to adopt the game-changing technology today is a bit more difficult, given that we are at least two years away from 5G being in place. The fact that most MNOs are now covered from a regulatory standpoint has pushed the deployment of high-accuracy location further down a priority list that tops the rollout of 5G.

However, now could be the perfect time to deploy high-precision location technology. 5G can completely transform location, with the potential for even greater accuracy, as good as or better than GNSS accuracy levels.

Mobile network operators enjoy the competitive advantage of being the first to use any new technology. They would enjoy the reputational benefit of being able to say they are the most secure network, supporting emergency services with the most reliable and fastest access available today.

MNOs are in a unique position. They have the opportunity to get ahead and save lives. It is likely that the high precision localization required by the FCC in the United States will be followed by the EU and the rest of the world. Make localization your number one priority. Combine the societal good of greater accuracy that saves lives with the business opportunities that more precise location provides.

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