Wireless Accuracy Testing
Lee County, Florida
Lee County, Florida, home of the pristine beaches of Sannibel and Fort Myers and more than 750,000 people during high season, is committed to offering rapid and efficient 9-1-1 emergency call handling to all residents and visitors. Facing challenges associated with evolving technologies of 9-1-1 automated systems and problems with the delivery of wireless 9-1-1 calls made from cell phones, the county looked to Kimball to provide an unbiased assessment of the location information being reported to call dispatchers by the region's wireless service providers.
Solution: Testing began within the county in January 2008 and was concluded three months later in March. Kimball identified all wireless service providers with cell phone subscribers in the county and obtained cell phone tower locations for each of these sources. Using sub-meter, highly accurate Global Positioning Systems (GPS) equipment, Kimball was able to create baselines for the actual latitude and longitude compared to the coordinates reported by the wireless service providers using test calls and field data. In doing so, the location accuracy for each provider was provided on a countywide, per cell tower basis.
Results: The test yielded surprising results. More than 43 percent of the wireless service providers were not compliant with the FCC’s standards on a countywide basis based on their existing technology. These conditions make it challenging for 9-1-1 call centers to obtain an accurate location of wireless callers who may be involved in an emergency and could prolong the response time. Having this data at their fingertips, Lee County will be able to establish an open dialogue with wireless service providers to address compliance issues and in turn, fulfill their mission of delivering the highest quality of 9-1-1 service to their community.