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New technology better locates 911 mobile callers

Posted on 01/22/2019
New technology better locates 911 mobile callersWeld County’s Department of Public Safety Communications has added a new tool that makes location accuracy for mobile 911 callers more precise. RapidLite, a device-based software that pinpoints a mobile caller’s location.

“RapidLite is helping Weld County’s public safety dispatch system to provide quicker, more accurate service,” said Weld County Chair Barbara Kirkmeyer. “This tool will aid in better serving our residents and any 911 mobile caller.”

If a mobile caller can’t communicate their location clearly, the call drops, or the dispatcher can’t locate a caller, the mobile caller’s phone number is entered into RapidLite’s database; pinpointing the caller’s location within milliseconds. Dispatchers can look up a phone number for up to 10 minutes after it’s received.

All residents need to have is an iPhone iOS 12 or Android device and have locations services turned on. That’s all there is to it! But if you don’t have these, dispatchers will still be able to locate you using traditional methods.

“This technology is not only helping our residents but also our dispatchers,” said Mike Wallace, Public Safety Communications Director. “It is enhancing the way our department runs and allows mobile callers to be located faster and more precisely during an emergency.”

When someone calls from a landline, dispatch knows the exact location of the caller. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with mobile calls. Before, mobile caller’s locations were found using cell tower triangulation, and accuracy would depend on the carrier, signal strength, and the actual phone. When dispatch could retrieve the location coordinates from a phone, accuracy came within 30 to 60 feet. If they couldn’t retrieve the location coordinates, location precision could range from three to 10 miles. Now, with RapidLite, dispatchers can locate mobile callers quicker and with better accuracy when time is of the essence. This new technology makes a substantial difference when it comes to locating mobile callers who are in apartment and condominium complexes.

According to Marie Madrigal, Weld County E911 Program Manager, 81 percent of 911 calls came from mobile devices in 2018.

For more information on Weld County’s public safety efforts, visit https://www.weldgov.com/departments/public_safety_communications.