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"The truth is a 3-meter policy does not provide public safety with precise floor location. That’s a problem. We should choose standards that without fail provide for floor-level accuracy. When police or firefighters show up in an emergency, the last thing they should have to do is take out a measuring tape. They need a standard that tells them precisely where you are. We fall short of that with the standard we adopt today. And the result—according to those who take our 911 calls—is going to be a problem." JESSICA ROSENWORCEL - FCC Chairwoman

It is only the reliable Floor-level info that matters.

Currently, the communication technologies adopted by commercial mobile radio service providers and mobile network operators can not provide indoor location service with floor-level certainty, especially in power outages. The network-based cell tower MBS ( Metropolitan Beacon System), and handset-based barometric pressure altitude estimation of Height Above Ellipsoid (HAE), which are under development, proclaim that the best they can do is to meet the -/+ 3-meter vertical mandate. 

There is virtually a technological impasse facing the wireless communication industry in providing accurate and reliable incident floor-level information. It frustrates PSAP dispatchers, First Responders of Fire, Police & Ambulance when no real-time, actionable indoor location data is readily available. The remarks quoted above, made by FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, are a ringing echo of such frustration.

FCC has required an independently administered testbed for official stage Z testing by available technological approaches, such as barometric pressure-based altitude estimation. The report (pages 121-122) shows there are still many issues that are baffling all, such as, 

  • There is a big question mark on real-world performance and use of the barometric pressure-based altitude estimation when the device calibration varies between the different models of mobile devices, and the accuracy degrades with the age of the sensor.
  • The performance differs vastly in rural morphologies, freezing weather, high winds level dispatchable location mandate, etc.
  • How could altitude be accurately converted into building floor level for pressure-based estimation systems?

All these bafflings point to one big question:

How can it be possible to get accurate and reliable floor-level actionable emergency locations? 

Getting to the bottom of this question will need to ignite some thinking outside the box.

The defunct NEAD (National Emergency Address Database) that references the 911 callers’ floor level by cell towers and internet access points proves unreliable for regularly finding distressed callers. It is understandable to challenge a stringent floor-level information mandate/standard, such as the dispatchable vertical location, when mobile network operators don’t have the resources and capacity to deliver.

If satellites deployed in space can help locate emergency callers horizontally, mimicking such a satellite system inside the buildings for emergency vertical locations is a no-brainer. It is technologically feasible to use the intelligent sensors of the building facilities for that purpose.
Many in-building facilities can play this role so long they are empowered to connect the callers’ equipment that commits the 911 call. Preferably, it has power backup to support both online and offline fetching emergency indoor spatial data of the incident, prioritizing locating the distressed caller’s whereabouts inside.

There is reasonable ground to believe that providing an emergency facility for 911 caller location is fundamentally a building safety issue because it protects occupants’ safety and general welfare.
Therefore, the dispatchable location extends to the regime of the building regulations.
The growing issue is that the automatic PSTN telephone address has become obsolete, putting 911 callers’ locations unknown inside complex buildings. Without explicit verbal confirmation by the caller to the emergency call center over the phone, it is impossible to locate the caller. The brutal reality is that people who call 911 but can not communicate to share their precise locations inside buildings risk losing lives. Incidents of those are often treated as misadventures.

Taking it for granted is not OK when today’s rampant in-building innovative wireless technologies are technically capable of protecting the public.

A reliable Emergency Address Database to help.

A plural number of sensors of smart building facilities can connect to form a local RF communication network to go online. Their unique indexed RF IDs are explicitly bound to the data source of their indoor spatial locations, including the civic address, floor level, and room number in Geo-Coordinates, as well as the name of the Points of Interest on the same floor of the space in proximity.
These address references for emergency location purposes are stored in the local network server and the cloud server to form an Emergency Address Database.

The smart building sensors can interact with the caller’s equipment by RF frequency protocol to position the callers in response to his 911 call by relaying the caller equipment’s data together with its referencing data to the local and cloud servers to compute the caller’s indoor location. Thees sensors can also be activated to alert critical detection, including occupants’ movements in response to the 911 call and other emergency events such as fire evacuation. The movement detection and the caller location are sent to the duty warden/incident support person, preferably the emergency call center as well. Therefore, such a mechanism empowers the support person with real-time information to verify the incident, saving the despatcher the golden time form routing the call to confirm the inaccurate location of an incident. 

The caller’s location data is compiled into an Emergency Incident Data Document (EIDD) compliant to the latest i3 Next Generation 9-1-1 standards and shared by the emergency call center/Public Safety Answering Points dispatchers and the field responders. 

Extend the outdoor emergency address to indoors at any time, including in power outages.

The smart building sensors becomes an indoor locator or ‘satellite’ to position the distressed persons’ location. The geographical information accompanying the floor level, room number, and civic address on an open geographical coding standard indoor map to represent the caller’s location. The caller’s location will be shared online and offline when local internet access becomes unavailable.

Emergency Indoor Locations Save Lives™i

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