The Columbia Press

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State gets upgraded 911 locational system

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Oregon’s 911 program and RapidSOS, an emergency response data platform, have formed a partnership to deliver enhanced location data to each of the state’s 43 911 dispatch centers.

Oregon is the first in the nation to securely deploy RapidSOS into an existing, secure emergency services network.

“The existing 911 system used to locate cell phone calls is over 20 years old, designed long before smartphones or GPS,” explained Program Manager Frank Kuchta. “When a person calls 911 from a cell phone, the dispatcher can’t see the caller’s exact location; instead, they have to rely on the caller’s wireless carrier for the information.”

Yet 80 percent of 911 calls come from cell phones and location information comes from a cell tower that could put the caller miles away from where they are physically.

More than 10,000 lives could be saved nationwide each year if 911 could locate wireless callers faster, allowing first responders to assist callers sooner, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

The RapidSOS Platform securely delivers real-time data from smartphones and sensors to 911 centers, helping personnel quickly verify emergencies and providing location and additional data to effectively dispatch first responders.