E911 and Public Safety

Safety Impacts of the Growth of Wireless E911 Use

In the late 1990s when accuracy-testing standards for wireless E911 were first promulgated, most wireless usage occurred outdoors and most 911 calls were placed from landlines. Today, wireless is an indoor service, and the preponderance of E911 calls are wireless. 

Partly in response to E911 regulation, GPS has become nearly ubiquitous, enabling accurate outdoor positioning in many environments. However, GPS doesn’t work well indoors, and it doesn’t work well in urban canyons.

Consumers are increasingly relying on wireless devices for all of their communications needs, with over 30% of households lacking a landline as of December 2010.  Add to this the important fact that the consumers most likely to drop their landline phone service for wireless-only service are those under the age of 40, and you have a demographically driven and growing indoor/urban gap, creating real public safety problems.

Download the CDC Study on Fixed Line Replacement

Wireless v. Fixed line use
The trend is clear and accelerating.

E911 wireless usage
Today, over 60% of E911 calls are wireless.

Emergency responders to wireless calls from an urban area or indoors are often faced with no or inaccurate routing, and calls completed to the wrong jurisdiction. They may have to search—particularly if speech is impossible due to the nature of the emergency—wasting precious time.

Bringing greater accuracy to indoors Wireless E911
Now NextNav offers a carrier-grade solution for indoor and urban location.  For devices equipped with NextNav’s technology, when a subscriber calls 911, the first responder won’t be left guessing about where they are.  Providing a unique height capability, with vertical precision of up to 1 – 2 meters, first responders can move rapidly to the correct floor to ensure that not a second is wasted in the emergency response process.

In Emergency Response, Seconds Matter
NextNav’s terrestrially-based system of transmitters is designed to provide pervasive coverage in urban areas and particularly indoors.  GPS is often unavailable in these difficult environments, while NextNav’s network is designed to offer 95%+ yield.  In addition, NextNav offers an extremely rapid time to first fix of about 5 seconds.  While other systems offer poor accuracy or are unable to even get a signal at all, NextNav’s technology provides position information that can save a life.

Emergencies Happen Above the Ground Floor
NextNav’s ability to deliver an accurate height estimate, along with accurate and swiftly-delivered x-y coordinates, allows first responders more rapid access to subjects on upper floors of multi-story structures. Apartment buildings, malls and offices present a daunting challenge when height isn’t known, even in suburban areas. NextNav’s technology enables the delivery of height to PSAPs prepared to accept this piece of information.

Carrier Grade Network for Safety Services
To complement GPS and A-GPS where those technologies don’t work well, NextNav is deploying a nationwide network providing accurate location across entire metropolitan areas. We own, manage and operate every element of the network, on our own licensed spectrum, to exclusively provide location services. That means we can architect our network for location, not communications, and wireless carriers don’t need to make expensive infrastructure investments.

Secure, Encrypted Solution for E911
NextNav’s transmission is encrypted, secure and is available for carriers as a standalone service for E911 only. A carrier can implement the NextNav solution to enhance location performance of the E911 system separate from any decision to use NextNav capabilities as part of their commercial location-based services.

Public Policy and Engagement
NextNav is working with PSAPs and public safety organizations around the country to understand their needs and to ensure that they understand the capabilities that NextNav is bringing to market.  While NextNav does not envision PSAPs as customers, they are key stakeholders and bridge the gap between wireless carriers, first responders and those in emergency situations.

NextNav is likewise engaged with appropriate regulatory, industry, government and standards groups to ensure that the “art of the possible” is understood, and that the impact to existing systems is minimized. While NextNav’s capabilities are revolutionary, they are founded on rock-solid principles and are being implemented by a team with decades of experience in delivering wireless services and location solutions to market.

In response to the urgent need for a set of reliable, accurate indoor wireless E911 solutions, the FCC has recently begun to take action.  Recent FCC processes, and NextNav’s response to those actions, can be viewed here:

3rd Report and Order and 2nd FNPRM

NextNav Comments (as Commlabs)

NextNav is also a member of CSRIC3, working group 3. This collaborative effort among public safety, industry and regulatory groups is being conducted to establish recommendations for indoor location accuracy testing requirements. Indoor testing presents unique challenges that NextNav has already successfully confronted in establishing its network, and NextNav looks forward to providing the benefit of its experience to this important work. Additional information on the CSRIC can be found here.

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