Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
×
Communications Google

Google is Making it Easier For 911 To Find You in an Emergency (engadget.com) 49

An anonymous reader shares a report: When you call 911 from a cellphone, your location is typically sent to the call taker by a wireless carrier. But that information isn't always so accurate. Well Google might have a better way of going about it and it tested its system across a few states in December and January, the Wall Street Journal reports. In the states where the tests took place, Google sent location data from a random selection of 911 callers using Android phones straight to the people taking those calls. The test included 50 call centers that cover around 2.4 million people in Texas, Tennessee and Florida, and early reports of the results suggest the system is promising.

One company involved in the test told the Wall Street Journal that for over 80 percent of the 911 calls where Googl's system was used, the tech giant's location data were more accurate than what wireless carriers provided. The company, RapidSOS, also said that while carrier data location estimates had, on average, a radius of around 522 feet, Google's data gave estimates with radii around 121 feet. Google's data also arrived more quickly than carrier data typically did.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google is Making it Easier For 911 To Find You in an Emergency

Comments Filter:
  • Pretty cool! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EzInKy ( 115248 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @02:55AM (#56146090)

    But how do I make Google forget where I was?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Turn off your phone, take out the battery, and then sigh deeply.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        CAUGHT! Time travelling fool, nobody in this realm removes their batteries anymore! GET HIM!

      • So non removable batteries were a cunning NSA ruse?

        Inconceivable! I was told non removable batteries were because users wanted phones that were so thin and so waterproof so they could use them in a pinch to shave in the shower and didn't care about battery life or longevity because they wanted to commit to spending $1000 on a new one in a year and half's time even though it didn't have a headphone port, or, the way things are going a speaker, microphone and display.

        • by Khyber ( 864651 )

          "So non removable batteries were a cunning NSA ruse?"

          Given you can make a bugging device paper-thin and utilize almost zero power with today's tech, where better place to put it then right atop a giant (comparatively for power draw of device) fucking battery?

    • Log in to your Google account use the timeline feature in maps and then select clear history.

      It's not hard.

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        Log in to your Google account use the timeline feature in maps and then select clear history.

        It's not hard.

        How does that work if you don't have and don't want a Google account? They still collect the data, but you have to sign in to get rid of it...

        • Buy another phone. If it's not tied to an account what's the problem, their tracking stops when you no longer have the item.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        No, you did not answer the question. The other person actually asked how you could do it and not how you could pretend to do it (pretend because Google can switch it right back on again and don't even try to pretend that isn't true).

        So how do you do it in reality, well, you have to root your phone. Pull off Android and replace it with some thing else, a phone version of Linux, where you can actually in reality control the apps installed and actually delete Google controlled apps you probably should avoid.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Also of course, keep google and others from tracking my every move.

  • Finland (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 18, 2018 @03:33AM (#56146146)

    Finland commissioned an app for exactly this. For example I have the app on my Android phone. It detects automatically if I am about to call 911 (112 in Europe actually, but if you dial 911 it will work as well), uses the facilities of the cell phone to locate me, and sends the location via a side channel. It is probably much more accurate than the information cell phone towers has.

    IIRC over million people (out of ~6 million living in Finland) have downloaded the app.

    They also built an API for the national "911 system" so that systems integrators can develop competing applications. There is one such application already, made by a consortium of reindeer farmers or something similar. I have not looked into it, but iirc their application has extra features related to their jobs.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sinä on lehmä, Lehmät sanovat moo. MOOOOOOO! MOOOOOO! Mooooo lehmät MOOOOOO! Moo sanovat lehmät. HÄTÄLEHMÄÄ!!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Google translate can't even get a trivial three-word sentence grammatically correct?

        "Sinä olet lehmä" is the correct form. "Sinä on lehmä" would be "You is a cow" ...

        But hätälehmä, whatever that means, sounds funny =D

      • by Anonymous Coward

        FYI, cows say "ammuu" in Finland.

        captcha: unaware

    • Android devices have advanced location services for 112 calls. There's no need for Finland to bake their own.

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        Android devices have advanced location services for 112 calls. There's no need for Finland to bake their own.

        So they should only endorse Android phones?
        I'm sure Google would be fine with that...

        • You assume just because I said Android phones have it that it means it's Android only. It's not. AML was developed by telecom companies and hardware manufacturers. It's an open standard. Android just happened to be first to implement it in a really wide manner 7 years ago. Apple is coming to the party with the next release of iOS. Blackberry had it before they went under too.

          Oh and Finland is listed as supporting it too. Point is you shouldn't need to introduce a country specific solution to a general probl

          • by arth1 ( 260657 )

            Oh and Finland is listed as supporting it too. Point is you shouldn't need to introduce a country specific solution to a general problem.

            Yes, you should. Because different countries have different requirements and legislation. Giving up location without consent can be a problem in some countries. Example time: If I call emergency services to tell them that my cousin called me and was going to commit suicide, or I called from a meth lab to say that a crazy with a gun is on the way to kill his wife, there are places where demanding or obtaining my location is a breach of privacy laws.
            In other countries, registering access points in databas

            • Yes, you should. Because different countries have different requirements and legislation.

              Spoken like someone who has never looked at just how similar systems are between countries. Especially in a place like Europe that is a silly suggestion to make. Even sillier when you compare it to just how standardised emergency service response and mobile networks are across most of the world (minus USA).

              Your examples also have nothing to do with the technology but the philosophical barriers to adopting them. In countries where identification of access points is illegal, the phones don't work like that, A

  • by Cochonou ( 576531 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @04:26AM (#56146218) Homepage
    It is surprising that slashdot makes no reference to the Advanced Mobile Location [wikipedia.org] system, given that it already wrote about it in an article [slashdot.org]. Because we would like to compare the pros and cons of those different systems.
    • by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @05:50AM (#56146360)

      The interesting thing is that in the US there's an FCC mandated location service since 1996.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      In 1996, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an order requiring wireless carriers to determine and transmit the location of callers who dial 911. The FCC set up a phased program: Phase I involved sending the location of the receiving antenna for 911 calls, while Phase II sends the location of the calling telephone. Carriers were allowed to choose to implement 'handset based' location by Global Positioning System (GPS) or similar technology in each phone, or 'network based' location by means of triangulation between cell towers. The order set technical and accuracy requirements: carriers using 'handset based' technology must report handset location within 50 meters for 67% of calls, and within 150 meters for 90% of calls; carriers using 'network based' technology must report location within 100 meters for 67% of calls and 300 meters for 90% of calls.

      The order also laid out milestones for implementing wireless location services. Many carriers requested waivers of the milestones, and the FCC granted many of them. By mid-2005, implementation of Phase II was generally underway, limited by the complexity of coordination required from wireless and wireline carriers, PSAPs, and other affected government agencies; and by the limited funding available to local agencies which needed to convert PSAP equipment to display location data (usually on computerized maps).

      In July 2011, the FCC announced a proposed rule requiring that after an eight-year implementation period, at some yet-to-be-determined date in 2019, wireless carriers will be required to meet more stringent location accuracy requirements. If enacted, this rule would require both "handset based" and "network based" location techniques to meet the same accuracy standard, regardless of the underlying technology used. The rule is likely to have no effect as all major carriers will have already achieved over 85% GPS chipset penetration, and are thus able to meet the standard regardless of their 'network based' location capabilities.[7]

      However according to TFA

      One company involved in the test told the Wall Street Journal that for over 80 percent of the 911 calls where Google's system was used, the tech giant's location data were more accurate than what wireless carriers provided. The company, RapidSOS, also said that while carrier data location estimates had, on average, a radius of around 522 feet, Google's data gave estimates with radii around 121 feet. Google's data also arrived more quickly than carrier data typically did.

      So Google is better at tracking people than say T-Mobile. Also government mandates don't actually work very well.

      • On a carrier level it was never going to work. Whoever controls the device will by nature know more about it than someone who's inferring information about it.

        • Networks could use GPS or cell tower triangulation, which is what Google do and what the FCC mandates.

          • Networks can't use GPS as that is a client privilege, and cell tower triangulation is orders of magnitude less precise than a client side GPS fix. ... which is what Google ACTUALLY does. But the FCC mandate pre-dates implementations of AML which is why the USA ended up triangulation as a less precise solution, a victim of timing and specificity of the regulation.

            • If you look at the wiki article

              In 1996, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an order requiring wireless carriers to determine and transmit the location of callers who dial 911. The FCC set up a phased program: Phase I involved sending the location of the receiving antenna for 911 calls, while Phase II sends the location of the calling telephone. Carriers were allowed to choose to implement 'handset based' location by Global Positioning System (GPS) or similar technology in each phone, or 'network based' location by means of triangulation between cell towers. The order set technical and accuracy requirements: carriers using 'handset based' technology must report handset location within 50 meters for 67% of calls, and within 150 meters for 90% of calls; carriers using 'network based' technology must report location within 100 meters for 67% of calls and 300 meters for 90% of calls.

              I think when they say 'Carriers were allowed to choose to implement 'handset based' location by Global Positioning System (GPS) or similar technology in each phone' they don't mean 'the T Mobile network uses GPS to track phones' they mean 'When you buy a phone from T Mobile, the firmware must report a GPS location when it calls 911'. Most phones sold in the US will have US specific firmware, and that will do E911. Though the mandate would allow the phone firmware or even the n

              • So again, not carrier level. The phone reports, not the network infrastructure. That was my point which incidentally means that unless you get the likes of Google involved doing something open like ALM you will have a widely differing approaches and success rate especially as not all devices are controlled by carriers.

                By the way 10 years ago was 2008. Google has used wifi services to accurately identify which house you were in for quite a while before that. That isn't carrier triangulation. The phone does n

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@@@worf...net> on Sunday February 18, 2018 @06:21AM (#56146426)

      It is surprising that slashdot makes no reference to the Advanced Mobile Location system, given that it already wrote about it in an article. Because we would like to compare the pros and cons of those different systems.

      AML is neat, but it would be problematic implementing it in North America. Basically, AML works because Europe doesn't have E911 (Enhanced 911) services that support GPS. In E911, which is mandated on all phones, and works even if the phone cannot do data (dumbphones included - remember, this was implemented as part of 9/11 so the smartphone craze hasn't happened yet) the phone has a simple GPS receiver (generally A-GPS) inside the phone stack. That GPS receiver works alongside the towers to get your position, and the location is transmitted to the 911 operator on the control plane - it's metadata.

      AML is implemented differently and reflects that Europe did not have an E911 mandate and thus does not have the functionality baked into their network to send GPS information through the control plane and have it reach emergency services. So instead of using the control plane, it uses the user plane (user plane is where "billable" happens). It opens up a data connection and sends the location information that way.

      The problem is well, AML is user plane and if you're unaware, that can mean bills for its use. In an emergency, this might not matter, but you may not be aware of this and may not be able to use data. After all, most carriers in North America let you block data roaming, or if you exceed say $50, they will automatically disable all data services to keep you from running up your bill. AML will not work - the network will have to be smart enough to realize it needs to re-enable data connectivity, and then tell the phone that data works again for that data to transfer

      And then you have the case where a phone is in "emergency call only" mode - i.e., there is no SIM card. This means there is no data connection because the modem doesn't have any of the required data parameters that would be stored on the SIM card. In North America, it's very common for phones to be recycled in this manner - they have no service, but are useful for emergency calls, and with E911, at least they will get location data. But there is no data service because it cannot be configured.

      For those wondering how the system decides if it's emergency or not, you may not realize that ANY emergency number works! The phones do not actually dial 911 or 999 or whatever. They could, and it will reach emergency services, but it's treated as a normal phone call. When you dial 911, the software stack realizes it's emergency and goes into an emergency state - the modem is told to make an emergency call (it's a special dial command - dial emergency). This puts the modem in an emergency state - if it is not attached to a tower or has no service, it will immediately use the first one it finds, and a control message is sent to set up an emergency call. The modem doesn't have to know the emergency number, it tells the network "connect me to emergency services" and the network routes the call to the local emergency call center, regardless of the actual number you're supposed to call.

      The emergency state may cause the modem to use a higher power transmit setting to make a connection, and it will tell the network that since the call is emergency, if the tower overloads then it will drop non-emergency calls. Emergency calls also get priority during handoffs so you're less likely to get cut off.

      • Someone needs to doorstep that cringe inducing fucker John Legere [youtube.com] who runs T-Mobile and ask him why E911 works so poorly

        From TFA

        One company involved in the test told the Wall Street Journal that for over 80 percent of the 911 calls where Google's system was used, the tech giant's location data were more accurate than what wireless carriers provided. The company, RapidSOS, also said that while carrier data location estimates had, on average, a radius of around 522 feet, Google's data gave estimates with radii around 121 feet. Google's data also arrived more quickly than carrier data typically did.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        In 1996, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an order requiring wireless carriers to determine and transmit the location of callers who dial 911. The FCC set up a phased program: Phase I involved sending the location of the receiving antenna for 911 calls, while Phase II sends the location of the calling telephone. Carriers were allowed to choose to implement 'handset based' location by Global Positioning System (GPS) or similar technology in each phone, or 'network based' location by means of triangulation between cell towers. The order set technical and accuracy requirements: carriers using 'handset based' technology must report handset location within 50 meters for 67% of calls, and within 150 meters for 90% of calls; carriers using 'network based' technology must report location within 100 meters for 67% of calls and 300 meters for 90% of calls.

        522 feet is 159m. 121 feet is 36m. It seems a bit implausible that if the average error for operator location is 159m that they're actually implementing E911 properly. Of course most people don't know or care about that, and neither do T Mobile. Still why not ask the networks why their location service is so much worse than it's supposed to be and

      • and may not be able to use data

        AML has a fallback to SMS and the implementation of SMS is the same as that of the 112 system meaning that this data packet can be sent to a number accessible even if you're roaming on another tower that you don't have permission to use for normal voice/data, e.g. works when roaming with data disconnected and works when roaming with all roaming turned off and no suitable roaming towers available.

        Basically the failure mode you describe was thought of and worked around when it was first implemented.

  • Because of the costs involved, will this go the way of other private ventures into the 911 system where Wall Street has sunk its teeth deep into the process [nytimes.com]? Will taxpayers be on the hook when things go awry?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    but it's for you own safety! Ok.

  • https://www.facebook.com/Tucke... [facebook.com]

    Busted quite simply and thoroughly. They know when you're sitting or standing, or exiting a vehicle, with everything supposedly turned off.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter

Working...