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Canada behind in mobile 911 dispatch technology

Canada’s 911 system was originally designed for use with landlines only, and with the increasing proliferation of alternative forms of communication — cell phones, VoIP, and text messaging — officials and dispatchers are fighting an uphill battle to keep up. You see, when you call 911 from a landline, even if the line gets cut off, the dispatcher can still quickly trace your address and deploy the appropriate help to your location. The same can’t be said about cell phones.

And it’s not like it just takes longer to triangulate the location of a cell phone user. In some circumstances, it seems that the “911 operator may have no idea where the victim is.” The same can be said about certain Internet phones.

This is quite disconcerting as more and more Canadians (and Americans) are turning to “non-traditional” phones, and as such, may not be receiving the same level of 911 service and protection as their landline-based counterparts. According to the Chronicle Herald, “having instant access to the caller’s location is seen as critical by emergency services, because the caller may pass out, be confused about where they are, or could even be a child.”

About Michael Kwan

A freelance writer and tech geek from Vancouver. Find me at michaelkwan.com and follow me on Twitter @michaelkwan.

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