U.S. Transportation Officials Call For National Commitment to Wireless E9-1-1 System

Monday, April 8, 2002 
FHWA 7-02 

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, Transportation Chief of Staff John Flaherty and National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D., at a national E9-1-1 summit today called on public safety officials, the telecommunications industry and communities across the country to accelerate implementation of wireless enhanced 9-1-1 (E9-1-1) services. 

The summit in Arlington, VA, was convened at the direction of Secretary Mineta.  "Events of September 11 highlight the need to be able to quickly and precisely locate people when they make 9-1-1 calls on cellular phones," Secretary Mineta said.  "When people are injured, response time is critical in determining survivability, and bringing experts together like this will help expedite deployment of wireless E9-1-1." 

When completed nationwide, enhanced wireless 9-1-1 will enable public safety call centers to exactly locate cellular telephone users making emergency calls.  Ninety-eight percent of America's population can quickly be located when making emergency calls from residential, landline phones.  However, 25 percent of 9-1-1 calls are placed from wireless phones, and 40 percent of these calls are not covered by enhanced 9-1-1. 

Elected officials, representatives from the wireless industry, State and local governments, public safety call centers, emergency medical services, police and fire departments, and the transportation industry participated in the summit.  The Department will continue to work with the Federal Communications Commission in implementing E9-1-1.

Less than 40 percent of wireless phone users are covered by service that provides caller number identification.  Location identification service for wireless telephone users is not yet available across most of the United States.  If traveling 9-1-1 callers become disoriented, lost or are unable to speak, emergency response to their wireless calls will normally be delayed without E9-1-1.

Implementing a wireless E9-1-1 system that identifies the location of callers is complex because of the new technology it requires and the changes that will be necessary in the processes for handling and responding to emergency calls.

Accelerating wireless E9-1-1 implementation is a key initiative of Secretary Mineta and is coordinated through DOT's Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) program.  ITS saves lives, time, and money through combining advanced communications and transportation technologies to manage and operate surface transportation systems.  For more information, visit DOT's ITS web site at www.its.dot.gov.

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