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New emergency service location system in the UK pinpoints mobile callers to within 30 metres

Antony Savvas | Nov. 7, 2014
4,000 times more accurate than previous 999 call detection service.

A new service developed by BT, EE and HTC can pinpoint the source of 999 calls from mobile phones 4,000 times more accurately than the current system - aiding the emergency services.

The system pinpoints callers to a radius of 30 metres or less - crucially cutting the handling time for emergency teams.

About 60 percent of 999 and 112 calls in the UK are now made from a mobile - 22 million calls a year or 60,000 a day - all of which are handled by BT call centres.

Currently, emergency services are only able to identify approximate locations of callers to within a few square kilometres. As a result, 999 calls from a mobile take 30 seconds longer to handle on average than calls from landlines.

It can take three minutes of extra questioning of often stressed or injured victims to determine their location, said BT.

And in an estimated 36,000 critical incidents reported by mobiles every year, the emergency services spend 30 minutes or more searching for the location.

The new geographical location system, called AML (Advanced Mobile Location) provides 999 operators with the pinpoint location data.

When an emergency call is made with an AML-enabled smartphone, the phone automatically activates its location service and sends its position by text message to the 999 service - on average within 18 seconds.

This text message is not visible on the handset and is not charged for. The text is automatically matched to the voice call and compared to the network's cell-based information to ensure it is valid. The location is then sent to the appropriate emergency service.

Developed by BT, EE and HTC over the last 12 months, AML is currently available for emergency calls made on the EE network on all new HTC phones, including HTC One mini 2, HTC One (M8), HTC Desire 610, HTC One and HTC One mini.

The three companies have been working together with the other UK mobile networks so that the same approach can be used by all networks and manufacturers free of charge. It is expected that it will be available on HTC handsets on other networks shortly, and a number of other handset manufacturers have started to develop it for models to be introduced in the "near future", said the partners.

John Medland, BT's 999 policy manager, said: "This is a major breakthrough and will undoubtedly help save lives. It is obviously vital for the emergency services to get fast, accurate information so they can pinpoint where an incident is and provide help as quickly as possible.

"AML will help to cut response times, particularly for calls where there is only minimal location information. We're really looking forward to the other mobile networks and manufacturers making this available too."

 

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