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FCC provides new rules for tracking domestic 911 calls

In a proposal approved for review today, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it would require wireless carriers to more closely track 911 calls inside.

For years, the FCC has been thinking about how best to get businesses to follow calls in emergencies. The most recent plan focuses on vertical location information: operators must track the altitude of the calling party's device within 3 meters. According to the FCC, the plan will allow first responders to better locate callers in busy metropolitan areas, where they may need to find someone in a multi-storey building. Operators should answer 80% of 911 domestic calls, starting with larger cities.

"The FCC is committed to ensuring that when you call 911, you will get the help you need," said President Ajit Pai in a statement. The plan will receive a full vote at a subsequent meeting and will come into effect in 2021.

The proposal did not come without controversy. Consumer advocates of Public Knowledge asked if the plan adequately protected sensitive information, but said today that their concerns were being addressed.

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, one of the two Democrats on the five-member commission, voted against the plan, saying it was still insufficient. "I do not think it's ambitious enough," she said in a statement. "Since this framework was put in place, the technology has evolved. This has improved. Our record indicates that it is possible to locate 911 callers more accurately – and I think we should be able to do it in less time across the country. "

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