E911: Problem or Promise?

It seems that plans to address new requirements for E911 capable phones is running into trouble because consumers aren’t upgrading their cell phones fast enough. This makes it highly unlikely that nation’s cellular carriers will meet the current schedule of having at least 95 percent of their subscribers using location-enabled phones by the end of the year.

Despite this, location-based services (LBS) offer the potential of an important new channel for governments to deliver critical information to citizens. Governments should look to LBS for the delivery of emergency notifications, travel information, information on registered sex offenders and other types of information that have a locational component.

Even if the FCC’s goals aren’t met on time, the presence of thousands and thousands of LBS-aware cell phones in the hands of citizens is an opportunity that governments need to capitalize on.