911?

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Les Kern, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. Les Kern macrumors 68040

    Les Kern

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2002
    Location:
    Alabama
    #1
    Microsoft has patented a method and system for accessing 911 data. HERE
    I can see it now:
    MS: "911 emergency service, may I help you?"
    Caller: "Yes, I have an emergency. The man had a heart attack I think!"
    MS: "May I have a credit card number please?"
     
  2. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #2
    just what we need, along with paying postage for email :rolleyes: :cool:
     
  3. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #3
    Would that be $35 per incident, or would you like the annual subscription to MSHelpMe for $199? The subscription also covers you for any system upgrades during the year, such as the upcoming change to the new Microsoft standard "912".
     
  4. AppleMatt macrumors 68000

    AppleMatt

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    #4
    Best post I've read this week.
    MSHelpMe :D

    AppleMatt
     
  5. wdlove macrumors P6

    wdlove

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    #5
    I think that this idea makes no sense at all. 911 is a very important emergency service, it saves many lives. Having this service could lead to confusion and cost lives. This is a sad day. :(
     
  6. KingSleaze macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2004
    Location:
    So. Cal
    #6
    Caller: "Uh, whose credit card number do you need, mine or the heart attack victim?"
    MS: "Why don't you just give us both numbers."
    Caller: "Urk........" crash
     
  7. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #7
    I am on the fence on this. I can see with the growing use of cell phones as replacements for land lines, that this may help deliver proper care. The problems I have with this news:

    - That M$ is involved. They tend to muck things up.

    - Credit card info being stored. We know how well M$ handles security.
     
  8. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #8
    I don't think this is quite as bad as it sounds... MS' patent is for technology to build a system to improve 911. It wouldn't get implemented by the government unless it's actually likely to do so. The patent is also overly broad because that's the way it works. Just because the patent says credit card data is an example of what might be stored, doesn't mean that there would be any credible reason to store it, and therefore makes it unlikely that this aspect would get implemented. OTOH, having information about an individuals medical history, doctor, etc, available during the 911 call could potentially be huge in helping to save lives. Likewise if law enforcement data can be tied in, it may be possible for police to arrive on the scene with much more knowledge about the situation, or for instance to also be dispatched to a secondary scene that may end up being involved (like if restraining orders exist, etc).

    So I don't think its necessarily a sad day.

    'Sides...remember, MS does make *some* good software. Office/Mac is a nice piece of work. :D
     
  9. eRondeau macrumors 6502a

    eRondeau

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2004
    Location:
    Canada's South Coast
    #9
    Doesn't Make Sense...

    I am a shift supervisor for a busy 911/Police/Fire Dispatch Center. I just read and re-read the linked article and it doesn't make any sense to me at all. The primary function of the 911 system is to quickly and accurately locate an emergency -- be it a fire, a car accident, or a heart attack. The landline 911 ALI/ANI (location index & name/number index) database is maintained to very strict standards by the various telephone companies, using whatever software they happen to use. The 911 Callcenters receive standardized data packets from the phone companies, verify the address information with the callers (when possible), and dispatch emergency services as required. Downstream agencies (police/fire/ambulance) all keep their own records on addresses, occupants, and previous incidents depending on what information is important to them.

    I can see no benefit in including credit card information or anything else beyond the essential name and address information in the 911 data packets. And I can't imagine the phone companies wanting to accept any responsibility for ensuring that all this data is kept accurate. Believe me, it's tough enough just keeping track of the basic name, address, and phone number data when 10-15% of people move and/or change their phone numbers every year, on average.

    If Microsoft really wanted do something to help the 911 systems of the world, they would take the lead in standardizing ALI/ANI packets for cell phones and VOIP which currently exists outside the realm of 911 standards.
     
  10. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #10
    Thanks for giving us a "first responders" view on the matter.

    OT of sorts. I know you are in Canada, but I assume that the 911 systems there are not much different then the US.

    What about the landline vs. wireless as a persons primary phone. I know there is something called E911 for wireless. What can you say about the move towards wireless phones as the primary and only phone line and 911 response?
     
  11. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #11
    Whether or not MS can/should do it, this is a really good point.

    So, given that your downstream agencies keep their own records about history, etc, is it in general true that they're able to use them in the time between your referral to them and their arrival on-scene? Are ambulance services able to get good medical data on a victim on their way to a 911 response call? I'm guessing the police are more likely to be able to get good history / priors information, although they could probably always use more, like some kind of matching process that picks relevant information (Bayesian?), that is related to the incident in a fuzzy way, and is only *likely* to be relevant, but which can be skimmed very quickly (sort of like an RSS feed).

    But I've never been on either side of a 911 call. Thankfully.
     
  12. eRondeau macrumors 6502a

    eRondeau

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2004
    Location:
    Canada's South Coast
    #12
    Good questions. Yes I am in Canada however the 911 landline system is standardized throughout North America. The 911 system for wireless carriers is still in a bit of a flux everywhere, however.

    E911 stands for Enhanced 911, and virtually all of North America currently has E911 for landline phones. Prior to E911, like 30 years, ago calling 911 would only result in the caller's number being displayed on the calltaker's screen. This Automatic Number Index, or ANI, was nothing more than we get with basic Call Display at home now, but it was a huge step forward for public safety as it allowed the emergency services operators to phone the caller back if the line was disconnected. If there was cause for concern, the calltaker could also "manually" check with the phone company records and find out to whom and where that phone number belonged.

    E911 added two big features to basic 911 service -- CPC or Calling Party Control, as well as ALI or Automatic Location Index. CPC essentially allows the 911 calltaker to "take over" the phone line of that calls in and they keep control until they decide to release the line. That means that you can call 911 and hang-up (or rip the phone out of the wall and beat your wife over the head with it) but your line will remain "open" and locked to 911. If you try to pick up the phone again, all you will hear is the 911 operator. CPC also allows the 911 operator to do priority ringbacks -- even to pay phones that don't normally ever ring. In other words, when I answer a 911 call, your phone line belongs to me until I'm convinced you can have it back again!

    ALI is part of the E911 data packet that instantly sends the 911 calltaker the caller's name and address as it is printed in the phone book. This is clearly a lifesaver as it quickly and easily pinpoints the caller -- as well as allows downstream dispatch agencies to look-up previous dealings with the people at that address. Not only things like medical problems, but also responder safety issues such as previous domestics, weapons calls, or even attack dogs or hazardous chemicals at the location.

    But to (finally) answer your question -- there is still no easy way to locate cell phones that call 911. Currently all most agencies get from cellular 911 calls is the number of the cell phone, as well as the location of the tower that picked-up the call. But as even de-activated cell phones can still call 911 (most people don't know that....) the calltakers are not able to ring back de-activated phones, which is very frustrating. Also, many people now consider cell phones to be disposable items -- especially now that it's much cheaper to buy a new phone than to replace the batteries.

    Several different methods are being tested for locating cell phone 911 calls including Bearing, Triangulation and GPS. Bearing methods work well in flat rural areas, where the tower receiving the cellular call knows the angle the signal is coming in from, as well as the relative strength of the signal. Do the math, solve a few equations, and you can make an educated guess that this call is being placed 15-to-17 miles from the tower in a north-north-westerly direction. (Not great, but better than nothing...) Triangulation methods work well in built-up areas where one cell call can be picked-up on multiple towers at different signal strengths. The towers mathematically figure-out where a cell phone has to be in order to provide the relative signal strength to each tower. That gives a fairly wide search area and it is of limited use when the cell phone is moving (and they often are!). The benefit is, both Bearing and Triangulation techniques are tower-based and work with all existing cell phones, digital or analogue. I understand some large cities have already implemented such features for tracking all 911 cell calls. However the GPS-based system is much better, but it obviously requires special GPS-enabled digital cell phones and substantial upgrades to every part of the chain. GPS-based phone locations are very accurate and can be tracked when moving. (This is a lot like the current OnStar technology -- I love getting calls from OnStar -- they'll tell you there's been an airbag activation 4.7-miles west of Springfield on Route 3, you're looking for a red Envoy, and it's probably down in a ditch because it is 12' below grade level... amazing!)

    I think by the end of this year we will have an adopted standard for E911 cell phone ALI, but I'm not sure of the timetable for national implementation. A third of all 911 calls we answer at work are cell phone calls, but most of those are accidental mis-dials (de-program your 911 speed dial buttons!!!) But what really scares the hell out of us are the VOIP systems that currently don't conform to any standards -- you want a New York number in Detroit? Fine, here ya go... you're in New York City now!

    Technology marches on.... society just tries to keep up!
     
  13. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #13
    Continuing OT on 911 and cellphones

    Thanks for the useful info.

    Again I know that you are from Canada, but what is your opinion as to having only cellphone service verses landline service.

    Here in the DC area a landline after all the taxes will run you about $28-35US. Add another $40 for most reasonable cellphone coverage. Call me cheap, but I can't seem to justify $70-80US for two phone lines. In the end the cellphone would much more convenient for my life style.

    My concern is that I am entering the aging baby boomer domain. And I have concerns if I called 911 from my home on my cellphone. My new place is far enough from neighboring states that I won't fall into getting Maryland 911 when I am actually in Virginia (like I do when on the road). Add to that the nagging fears from 9-11, when it was impossible to get a cellphone link, compared to land lines (only to be made worse with new protocols in place to public safety people first access to cellphone towers in case of an emergency).

    Any thoughts on this?

    Thanks

    Chip
     
  14. Mechcozmo macrumors 603

    Mechcozmo

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2004
    #14
    911Tech: "Sir, have you tried restarting?"
    Person: "Uh... his heart or what?"
    -----------------------------------------------
    Person: "She's turning BLUE!"
    911Tech: "What's the memory address you see?"
    Person: "Huh?"
     
  15. eRondeau macrumors 6502a

    eRondeau

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2004
    Location:
    Canada's South Coast
    #15
    Cellular Only?

    Wow, I just realized how long my previous posting was -- I promise this will be a lot shorter! At this point only a "standard" landline phone will guarantee you receive the full benefits of E911 technology. Call 911 from a landline in an emergency and you WILL be found.

    However the technology for locating cell phones is advancing. I would say it is currently in a "transitional phase" as different systems are being evaluated. In five years, though, it will be a different story. I bet by 2010 all new wireless phones will have integrated GPS and all carriers and 911 call centers will be able to track their locations. (Heck, by then Google Maps will probably let you track your kids around the neighbourhood using their cell phone signals!)

    Having said that -- from experience, it is very, very rare for a 911 call to come in from a cell phone reporting a true emergency, where there is absolutely no voice contact made. Sometimes they'll be shouting-out an address or an intersection or the name of a bar, and that's all you need. But in extreme cases, 911 calltakers will jump through hoops in order to get subscriber name and address data from the cell companies, based solely on the incoming cell phone number. Sadly, it is far more common for cell callers to have absolutely no idea where they are on a highway, or to be so drunk or high that they can't even tell you their name. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Primetime/story?id=549455&page=1

    The bottom line: If you think you may need to call 911 because you have a medical condition that may leave you unable to speak, or if you fear you may be the victim of domestic violence from your partner, stick with a standard landline phone -- at least until wireless locating technology improves.
     
  16. eRondeau macrumors 6502a

    eRondeau

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2004
    Location:
    Canada's South Coast
    #16
    911 Record-Keeping...

    All emergency services -- the police especially -- keep extremely detailed records of every person, address, and vehicle they encounter. These records are formatted in order to be retrieved and interpreted very quickly. For example, police dispatchers regularly flag addresses for vicious dogs, known firearms, crack houses, or even deaf/mute occupants. Persons are likewise flagged for contagious diseases, needle use, assault police / escape custody, and the like. Of course people are cross-referenced to addresses, so given one we can get a complete list of the other.

    Fully half the time of police dispatchers is spent on data entry and data integrity. When an emergency call comes in, my goal is to have the history of the address reviewed, the caller and suspect(s) run nationally for warrants, firearms, and probation conditions, and all the relevent results summarized into the dispatch log within five minutes of answering the call. It would be cool if a computer program could do all that reliably 100% of the time, but I'm a little dubious at this point... although it would be fun to see a computer programmer sued for negligence, instead of a dispatcher -- which is happening with alarming frequency in the States now.

    You asked about ambulances responding to medical emergencies. Short of giving a choking victim the Heimlich, or zapping a heart attack with a defibrillator, or stopping an uncontrolled bleed because of an accident, the best chance for any patient to survive a medical emergency is to get them to the hospital ASAP. That's why EMS dispatchers only concern themselves with two questions: 1) Where do I send the ambulance? and 2) Is this a life-threatening situation, and how fast does the ambulance need to get there? Beyond that, there's not a lot of first aid that can be done over the phone. I am not an EMS dispatcher, but I know that a typical 911 call regarding a medical emergency lasts less than two minutes -- it just seems to take forever.
     
  17. Les Kern thread starter macrumors 68040

    Les Kern

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2002
    Location:
    Alabama
    #17
    Sanity from someone who KNOWS. Thanks for your insight.
     
  18. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #18
    Hmmm...thank you for the valuable insight, eRondeau. I guess saving lives is tough work, huh? :)
     
  19. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #19
    Can't thank you enough for your time in answering.

    I guess in my case with heart disease running in my family, I am trying to arm myself with the right information to decide on my telephone/cellphone communication needs for my new apartment.

    I am healthy right now. But I will be living on my own, so I will have no one but myself to rely on for the call to 911. So am guessing by your comments a landline would be the best option till the new technology for cellphones comes along? Or am I over thinking this? Guess I have heard one too many horror stories about 911 calls from a cellphone.

    Thanks again.
     

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