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New feature will help first responders find 911 callers faster

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 4:58 AM EDT|Updated: May. 12, 2022 at 5:19 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - One of the largest mobile carriers is preparing to roll out new technology it says will fill “a significant need” for wireless 911 callers and first responders.

Phil Black, AT&T’s director of sales and distribution for South Carolina, says the provider’s new “Locate Before Route” will use GPS tracking instead of cell towers to provide a more precise location for first responders.

When 911 was first established, people called in from landlines, which allowed 911 centers to track their precise location. About 80% of 911 calls today, however, are made from mobile devices. Pinpointing those call locations is not as simple.

Black says the new technology will narrow down a caller’s location from a 10-mile radius to about half a football field. This should help with faster response times from emergency services.

“It should be in South Carolina by the end of June,” Black says. “As technology evolves, as people’s needs evolve, we need to be able to get to people in need.”

The service will automatically be available by the end of June for AT&T’s post and prepaid network, cricket customers, apple, and android.

AT&T says their phones will only be tracked when dialing 911 and they are focused on customer safety and faster response times from first responders.

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