911 Fails to Locate GPS Signal

911 Fails to Locate GPS Signal

On a clear afternoon, Shanell Anderson delivered newspapers in Cherokee, GA, a few miles from Fulton county. Shanell’s car ran off the road into a lake. Unfortunately, Shanell became trapped in her car, so she called 911 from her cell phone for help. She told the 911 dispatcher exactly where she was, including the lake name and the streets intersecting. With all of the information Shanell gave, the dispatcher was unable to locate her coordinates. It took the police 19 minutes to locate the pond and an additional 29 minutes to find Shantell’s car where she laid unconscious.

I’m sure you are wondering why the police were not able to locate Shanell quicker. 911 uses a computer aided dispatch called GIS (Geographic Information System). GIS stops at city lines, which is why the dispatcher was unable to locate Shanell. Even though Shanell was not in Alpharetta county, her cell phone signal was sent there. This disabled Alpharetta county’s map ability.

It is important to know that cell phones don’t transmit GPS signals to dispatchers, they have to extract the GPS signal from the cell phone. The Senate and Congress are progressively working to improve this defect. It is also import that we are always conscious of our location and close landmarks, so if this situation was to arise we will be able to provide the dispatcher with as much information as possible.

 

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