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Jan 15, 2020 | Elevate Blog

A look forward to 2020 – location and public safety

Tags: E911

Last month our CEO Manlio Allegra recapped the major accomplishments of Polaris Wireless and the broader location industry in 2019. Looking forward, Manlio recently authored an article for Urgent Communications in which he predicted how 2020 will be the year that vertical location becomes a reality for public safety applications. The article outlines the factors driving this assertion:

  • Effectiveness of ‘Over the Top’ location solutions: ‘Over the Top’ (OTT) solutions as implemented by Polaris Wireless are positioning techniques that expand on device-based location by incorporating additional sensor measurements and algorithms in an intelligent and robust way. OTT solutions facilitate the spread of 3D location as they are software-based, so don’t require costly and time-consuming hardware deployments. They are also universal, working across multiple wireless networks, so that public safety organizations can utilize 3D location with existing devices. However, while OTT solutions bring high-accuracy location to the market, public safety still needs wireless operators to implement vertical location capabilities into their networks for E911 purposes. Only then can the public safety answering points (PSAPs) identify an emergency caller’s vertical location.
  • Federal Communications Commission mandate: The likelihood of a wireless operator implementing this technology received a huge boost recently, when the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) adopted an E911 z-axis mandate for wireless operators. The FCC Order specifically provides for the following:
    • Adopts a z-axis accuracy metric of plus or minus 3 meters for 80 percent of wireless E911 calls from z-axis capable handsets;
    • Requires wireless operators to validate through testing that their z-axis technology meets this metric;
    • Requires operators to deploy z-axis technology that meets this metric in the top 25 markets by April 3, 2021 and in the top 50 markets by April 3, 2023; and,
    • Extends privacy protections to z -axis data conveyed with 911 calls
  • Further evolution to dispatchable location: 2020 will also bring new ideas from public safety stakeholders, including Polaris Wireless, about how to find a way to convert measurements beyond the z-axis, to floor levels and ultimately to true ‘dispatchable’ location. The ultimate goal for public safety is to provide first responders with a specific civic address (not just the floor number) including the specific door within a building. Components of this capability and the beginnings of supporting data exist today but not to the extent that dispatchable location is feasible on a useful scale.

Given these factors, 2020 is the year wireless operators will deploy 3D location technology in their networks and, from there, public safety organizations ranging from PSAPs to police and fire departments can plan for the changes in how they will serve the public with this new capability, with Polaris Wireless supporting these efforts at every step.

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