Picture this:  You’re working late one night inside a traditional office building in the US, a landline phone on your desk and your mobile device within reach, as well.  Which do you use to call 911 if an emergency arises?

US and Canadian wireless carriers have installed high-performance location systems to comply with federal regulations that require them to provide accurate 911 caller locations to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), the call centers staffed by police, fire or other emergency responders. These work well for the most part when a caller is outdoors, but are generally less reliable if the caller is inside a building or other structure such as a tunnel or mall. Systems that rely on GPS are particularly susceptible, but other location methods also suffer.

The problem is magnified by the increasing percentage of wireless 911 calls that are made indoors—and especially incommercial structures that have multiple levels or floors. 

For example, 911 calls made from inside an office building via a wireless device may be located to that building or close to it, but without the ability to pinpoint from where in the building the call is placed.  So, returning to the scenario I described at the opening, if you happen to be on the 12th floor of your office building, make a 911 call from your wireless phone and then are incapacitated, it is likely that, if the caller location technology even is able to locate the building you’re calling from, it still won’t be able to provide specificity beyond the address.  None of the systems now in use can identify the caller’s floor in a multi-story building. Various schemes have been proposed to solve the problem, including putting TV receivers in cell phones, but for a variety of reasons none have been implemented on a wide scale.

At CommScope, we have been working on this issue for quite a while with our experts in wireless networking, location technologies and distributed antenna systems. Our GeoLENsIndoor  is a unique and effective indoor location solutionthat supplements existing caller location systemsand works with all handsets and networks without modifications. GeoLENs Indoor can locate a caller within meters and even to the exact floor in a building, providing a tremendous advantage to 911 emergency responders. Aside from its 911 application, GeoLENs Indoor can provide the same accuracy and reliability advantages to support new commercial location-based servicesand capabilities.

GeoLENs Indoor can reduce costs by usingwireless infrastructure such as distributed antenna systems (DAS) already installed in many buildings and structures. Or, it can be deployed in a stand-alone configuration if no DAS or repeater systems are in place.

CommScope continues to set the pace in innovative wireless location solutions and objective information about caller location. We are eager to expand the availability of  indoorlocation solutions for 911 or commercial services, be it for a multi-story building, shopping mall, campus, or airport.

About the Author

George Marble

George Marble is director of business development for the Americas, Network Solutions, for Andrew Solutions, a division of CommScope, Inc. George focuses on wireless location systems and RF site control and monitoring solutions. Prior to joining Grayson Wireless in November 1999, Mr. Marble was an executive director in marketing with Bell Atlantic International Wireless and a director of network engineering with AT&T. He is a graduate of Old Dominion University with a degree in mathematics.

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1 comment for "You CAN Locate A Cell Phone That’s In A Building"

Great news! Now CommScope has 2 solutions that cover all the needs. The wireless one you have described and, for the landline phone, the alliance between Cisco Call Manager and iPatch. This one can show the emergency services where the IP phone is located, via the location feature that maps the devices with the outlets they are using.

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