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Internet 911 - Why Is There No Emergency Service Available On The Internet?


DonRocks
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As I understand it, if you're calling via VoiP the available systems can't tell exactly where you are well enough to route your emergency call to the local 911 dispatcher close to you.  This isn't a problem with line phones (that system knows exactly where the phone is you're calling from) or the cell system (it at least knows which tower is handling your call, which is a pretty good approximation of your location).

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As I understand it, if you're calling via VoiP the available systems can't tell exactly where you are well enough to route your emergency call to the local 911 dispatcher close to you.  This isn't a problem with line phones (that system knows exactly where the phone is you're calling from) or the cell system (it at least knows which tower is handling your call, which is a pretty good approximation of your location).

Can't this be easily overcome with voluntarily stored information on your computer that's released whenever a command is entered?

For example, the person would type 911P, 911A, or 911F (for police, ambulance, or fire), and that signal, plus the stored information, is routed to a central dispatcher?

I know it probably needs to be one-step more difficult than that, or else there would be too many crank-calls and accidents, but it can't be *too* difficult, or someone in distress wouldn't (be able to) / (have time to) use it.

And I suppose this would only be available for whichever addresses you have stored, and you'd have to pick one - maybe 911PH would send the police to your home, and 911AW would send an ambulance to your work - something like that.

It seems like a lot of elderly people living alone might take great comfort in just knowing they have this available, even as a paid subscription service (did I just give away a ten million dollar idea?) Oh well, whatever benefits humanity, plus now that the idea's in the public domain, there would be no barriers to market entry. :)

Kind of like the, "I've fallen down ... and I can't get up!" of the 21st century.

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FWIW several weeks ago we heard a police helicopter overhead early in the morning and I called the Fairfax County police in their Reston station.  I did not call the 911#, believing that someone would answer in the station and this didn't seem to be quite a true emergency.

A computer answered and gave me a half dozen choices for which button to press.  It took almost two minutes to hear all of them including several other extensions.

I hung up and called 911.  The helicopter overhead sounded like it was going to land in our backyard.

I am still outraged that any police # would have this kind of response.

What I was told by the emergency operator was interesting, too:  "there is a fugitive and a chase-we should lock our doors."

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FWIW several weeks ago we heard a police helicopter overhead early in the morning and I called the Fairfax County police in their Reston station.  I did not call the 911#, believing that someone would answer in the station and this didn't seem to be quite a true emergency.

A computer answered and gave me a half dozen choices for which button to press.  It took almost two minutes to hear all of them including several other extensions.

I hung up and called 911.  The helicopter overhead sounded like it was going to land in our backyard.

I am still outraged that any police # would have this kind of response.

What I was told by the emergency operator was interesting, too:  "there is a fugitive and a chase-we should lock our doors."

The Arlington County non-emergency number was completely worthless based on my one experience with it - the person on the other end of the line was of no help at all. You try to be responsible and not tie up emergency resources, but when it's *this* difficult to convey information, it just isn't worth the trouble.

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The Arlington County non-emergency number was completely worthless based on my one experience with it - the person on the other end of the line was of no help at all. You try to be responsible and not tie up emergency resources, but when it's *this* difficult to convey information, it just isn't worth the trouble.

FWIW several weeks ago we heard a police helicopter overhead early in the morning and I called the Fairfax County police in their Reston station.  I did not call the 911#, believing that someone would answer in the station and this didn't seem to be quite a true emergency.

A computer answered and gave me a half dozen choices for which button to press.  It took almost two minutes to hear all of them including several other extensions.

I hung up and called 911.  The helicopter overhead sounded like it was going to land in our backyard.

I am still outraged that any police # would have this kind of response.

What I was told by the emergency operator was interesting, too:  "there is a fugitive and a chase-we should lock our doors."

Welcome to the wonderful world of electorates who view all governments as inefficient and wasteful, and based on that attitude refuse to pay enough taxes to support needed public services, vote in "conservatives" who promise to cut taxes, then turn around and complain when the services aren't there because taxes have been cut to the bone.  Pay less, get less.  Not saying either of you two are in the "cut tax" category, but everybody suffers the same.

Don in answer to your question, I doubt many currently elderly folks are ever going to use a computer to call emergency services -- they are still in the line phone era.  Trust me.  Anyhow I think cell phones are much more likely to fulfill that function than computers (smart phones are of course computers).  As to how things will be done once everybody has gone to VoiP, the answer to that has to come from somebody way above my pay grade, but given how we are all being tracked these days I imagine it's not a major hurdle.

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Don in answer to your question, I doubt many currently elderly folks are ever going to use a computer to call emergency services -- they are still in the line phone era.  Trust me.  Anyhow I think cell phones are much more likely to fulfill that function than computers (smart phones are of course computers).  As to how things will be done once everybody has gone to VoiP, the answer to that has to come from somebody way above my pay grade, but given how we are all being tracked these days I imagine it's not a major hurdle.

I was wondering if someone would bring this up, but as the current population ages, the elderly will become more computer-savvy.

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I was wondering if someone would bring this up, but as the current population ages, the elderly will become more computer-savvy.

True, but even so, if a computer-savvy young or old person were, say, in the kitchen and slipped on a banana (wonder why I thought of that), busting his head on the floor, even if he could why would he drag himself to the computer, pull himself up into the chair, and type out a request to emergency services, when all he has to do is whip out his cell (also a computer) and call it in the old-fashioned way?

Also, gets less blood on the keyboard that way.

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True, but even so, if a computer-savvy young or old person were, say, in the kitchen and slipped on a banana (wonder why I thought of that), busting his head on the floor, even if he could why would he drag himself to the computer, pull himself up into the chair, and type out a request to emergency services, when all he has to do is whip out his cell (also a computer) and call it in the old-fashioned way?

Also, gets less blood on the keyboard that way.

The obvious answer is to have both options available. Sometimes people have their phones with them, and aren't on the internet; other times people are on the internet, and don't have their phones handy (television and "the internet" will become one-and-the-same in the next fifty years, and people will be spending only more hours on the internet in the future, with laptops used as, among other things, "remote controls" to operate TV sets). Ideally, both methods should go to the same routing center, hopefully having a central junction along the way (just like the drains from your sink and your shower have a central junction before flowing out to the street). The wired, 911-from-home system is already obsolete, as many people don't even have home phones anymore - mobile phones and "the internet" will be the modes of communication going forward - of that, I am fairly certain - I don't think mobile phones will ever replace the keypad because they're just too small. It won't be a big problem implementing this technology on the sender's end, and 911 centers are already in place nationwide on the receiving end - now, it's just a matter of linking the two.

As someone who spends endless hours on the internet, I don't always know where my phone is, and if I hear someone breaking in at 3AM, I want to be able to send a "911PH" message while hiding in my closet! I don't think tax dollars will be an issue with this technology, as much of it can be privately implemented. The important thing (to me) is to get the idea out there, and let the market and/or the government handle the rest.

Just for grins, I went to 911.com, and there seems to be some type of system in place similar to what we're describing. However, it's extremely cumbersome, and would be worthless in a true, time-sensitive emergency (I should add that I don't even know if it's a legitimate website). If my life was in imminent danger, I certainly wouldn't be relying on this.

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