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FCC E911 Requirements for Providing Mobile Phone Geographic Locations
(Use your common digital cell phone for backcountry and mountaineering!)

FCC E911 Requirements for Providing Mobile Phone Geographic Locations
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has several requirements applicable to wireless or mobile telephones:[3]
Basic 911: All 911 calls must be relayed to a call center, regardless of whether the mobile phone user is a customer of the network being used.
E911 Phase 1: Wireless network operators must identify the phone number and cell phone tower used by callers, within six minutes of a request by a PSAP.

E911 Phase 2: 95% of a network operator's in-service phones must be E911 compliant ("location capable") by December 31, 2005. (Several carriers missed this deadline, and were fined by the FCC.[4])
Wireless network operators must provide the latitude and longitude of callers within 300 meters, within six minutes of a request by a PSAP.[5] Accuracy rates must meet FCC standards on average within any given participating PSAP service area by September 11, 2012 (deferred from September 11, 2008).[6]

Location information is not only transmitted to the call center for the purpose of sending emergency services to the scene of the incident, it is used by the wireless network operator to determine to which PSAP to route the call.

A second phase of Enhanced 911 service is to allow a wireless or mobile telephone to be located.

To locate a mobile telephone geographically, there are two general approaches. One is to use some form of radiolocation from the cellular network; the other is to use a Global Positioning System receiver built into the phone itself. Both approaches are described by the Radio resource location services protocol (LCS protocol).

Radiolocation in cellular telephony uses base stations. Most often, this is done through triangulation between radio towers. The location of the caller or handset can be determined several ways:
Angle of arrival (AOA) requires at least two towers, locating the caller at the point where the lines along the angles from each tower intersect.

Time difference of arrival (TDOA) works like GPS using multilateration, except that it is the networks that determine the time difference and therefore distance from each tower (as with seismometers).
Location signature uses "fingerprinting" to store and recall patterns (such as multipath) which mobile phone signals are known to exhibit at different locations in each cell.

The first two depend on a line of sight, which can be difficult or impossible in mountainous terrain or around skyscrapers. Location signatures actually work better in these conditions however. TDMA and GSM
networks such as T-Mobile 2G use TDOA.[7] AT&T Mobility initially advocated TDOA, but changed to embedded GPS in 2006 for every GSM or UMTS voice-capable device due to improved accuracy.

Code division multiple access (CDMA) networks tend to use handset-based radiolocation technologies, which are technically more similar to radionavigation. GPS is one of those technologies. Alltel, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile 3G, and Sprint PCS use Assisted GPS.[7]

Mobile phone users may also have a selection to permit location information to be sent to non-emergency phone numbers or data networks, so that it can help people who are simply lost or want other location-based services. By default, this selection is usually turned off, to protect privacy. In areas such as tunnels and buildings, or anywhere else that GPS is not available or reliable, wireless carriers can deploy enhanced location determination solutions such as Co-Pilot Beacon for CDMA networks and LMU's for GSM networks.
Note: Italics and bolding added for emphasis by Webmeister.



True and False!

Several Urban Myths perpetuate perceived problems with the use of cell phones for emergency communication in the backcountry:
1. Your emergency call to 911 may fail because it may go to the wrong 911 call center. Wrong, these 911 call center folks are smarter than that!

2. Not all cell phone service providers maintain 100% "location capability". True, but the 95% compliance required since 1995 is pretty good!

3. The geographic locations are unreliable and can be way off. Partly true, but most locations in practice, are within shouting distance!

4. The cell phone battery may fail. Partly true, but if the backcountry traveler is informed, the freshly charged battery, kept warm in a pants pocket, will last for hours. If companions all carry their own personal common cell phones, this is false concern!

5. The cell phone is a "yuppie 911 device" and it is immoral to carry it in the Wilderness. False, the ordinary cell phone can help take the Search out of Search and Rescue! This myth may have caused the deaths of many individuals since the original article went viral. Deschutes County Sherriff's Search and Rescue volunteers note that "searches are down and rescues are up" with the advent of new technologies.

6. You can call 911 from any cell phone. False, if your cell phone can not "see" cell towers, it can not connect. Example: Verizon has CDMA cell tower coverage of most of our local Three Sisters Wilderness and GSM cell phones can not see the towers. Do you have a GSM technology based cell phone?

7. My plan has roaming coverage with Verizon, so I can call 911 from all locations in the Three Sisters Wilderness. Wrong, see #6. above.

8. I pay monthly for a navigation application in my phone. It works great in Bend! It shows detailed topography and trails in the backcountry. Wrong, navigation programs are designed for cars and motor homes, not for hikers. Your phone customer service sales person may have never seen a USGS 1:24,000 Quad topo map. "He who knows naught, knows not that he knows naught."

9. A cell phone takes the place of a SPOT-2 GPS Satellite Messenger. False, Read More.

10. More soon!



The rest of the story

Deschutes County Sheriffs Search and Rescue Volunteer Coordinator Al Hornish, a 12 year veteran of DCSAR, stated the following in an interview published on January 26, 2012 in the Bend Oregon Source Weekly: "We have grown a lot over the past decade." "The nature of missions has changed as well. There are more Rescues and less Searches, mostly because of the better technology available." Read More. --Robert Speik, January 26, 2012

Wednesday, July 7, 2010, or nearly four months since my fall off Mount Temple. After so much time, there is much to dwell on. The negatives: the pain of so many fractures, the sleeplessness, the drugs and the messed up things they do to you. It’s easy to get stuck in the negative; yet some part of me is drawn there by some morbid fascination.
How big am I then? Not very. I made a mistake, a pretty small mistake. Or more honestly, I made a series of pretty small mistakes. I almost died for these transgressions. I would have died if it had not been for a cell phone and the chain of events it was able to put into motion. (I’ve owned a cell phone for barely six years.) I might not have died that very day, March 25, 2010, but from where we were, we were a long, long way from the medical care my injuries demanded: a trained trauma surgeon in an Emergency Room. Perhaps I would have lasted one night. Maybe not. It changes my perspective about what a day means. Carpe diem no longer seems some frat-boy cry to party. Today, means everything.  The Steve House Training Blog

Deschutes County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Deputy Jim Whitcomb, assistant SAR coordinator reports on a recent 911 "false alarm". He notes that the inadvertent activation happened in a pack with an older SPOT-1 device. Whitcomb said it was a first-generation version that’s easier to accidentally set off while in a pack. “It is important to remember that technology can be a great asset, but can just as easily be a liability,” the deputy said in a news release, urging users of such devices to regularly monitor such gear. SAR will respond to all SPOT activations, treating them as an emergency, unless contact can be made with whoever is carrying the device, to confirm otherwise, Whitcomb said. Read More,
--Robert Speik, July 22, 2012



A suggested minimum standard media advisory for all backcountry travelers

"We would like to take this opportunity to ask our visitors to the backcountry of Central Oregon to plan for the unexpected.  Each person should dress for the forecast weather and take minimum extra clothing protection from a drop in temperature and possible rain or storm or an unexpected cold wet night out and insulation from the wet ground or snow, high carbohydrate snacks, quarts of water, a map and compass and optional inexpensive GPS and the skills to use them. Each person should carry the new personal "Ten Essential Systems" including a charged common digital cell phone
and/or a SPOT-2 GPS Satellite Messenger in a day pack sized for the season and the forecast weather. This gear should weigh only four or nine pounds depending on the season and the trip.

Visitors are reminded to tell a Responsible Person where they are going, where they plan to park, when they will be back and to make sure that person understands that they are relied upon to call 911 at an agreed time if the backcountry traveler has not returned."




"To provide information and instruction about world-wide basic to advanced alpine mountain climbing safety skills and gear, on and off trail hiking, scrambling and light and fast Leave No Trace backpacking techniques based on the foundation of an appreciation for the Stewardship of the Land, all illustrated through photographs and accounts of actual shared mountaineering adventures."

TraditionalMountaineering is founded on the premise that "He who knows naught, knows not that he knows naught", that exploring the hills and summitting peaks have dangers that are hidden to the un-informed and that these inherent risks can be IN PART, identified and mitigated by mentoring: information, training, wonderful gear, and knowledge gained through the experiences of others.

The value of TraditionalMountaineering to our Friends and Subscribers is the selectivity of the information we provide, and its relevance to introducing folks to informed hiking on the trail, exploring off the trail, mountain travel and Leave-no-Trace light-weight bivy and backpacking, technical travel over steep snow, rock and ice, technical glacier travel and a little technical rock climbing on the way to the summit. Whatever your capabilities and interests, there is a place for everyone in traditional alpine mountaineering.




Mountain climbing has inherent dangers that can, only in part, be mitigated

Read more . . .
Gear grist, an article written for The Mountaineer, the monthly magazine of The Mountaineers
Robert Speik writes: "There is no denying the sense of cell" for The Mountaineer
Snowboarder lost overnight near Mount Bachelor, rescued by SAR 
Expert skier lost five days in North Cascades without Essentials, map and compass
Woman leaves car stuck in snow near Klamath Falls, dies from exposure
Man rescued from crevasse just off South Sister climber's trail
Climbing South Sister: A Prospectus and a Labor Day near disaster
Trail runner survives fall on ice with cell phone call
Once again, hypothermia kills stranded Oregon driver
Lessons learned from the latest lost Mt. Hood climbers
Lessons learned from the latest lost Christmas tree hunters
How do digital mobile phones assist mountaineering and backcountry rescues?
Clinic on Real Survival Strategies and Staying Found with Map, Compass and GPS together
Lithium batteries recommended for GPS backcountry use
What do you carry in your winter day and summit pack?
Why is the digital cell phone best for backcountry and mountaineering?
Why are "Snow Caves" dangerous?
Why are "Space Blankets" dangerous?
Why are "Emergency Kits" dangerous?
How can you avoid Hypothermia?
Missing climbers on Mount Hood, one dies of exposure, two believed killed in fall
Missing California family found, dad dies from exposure and hypothermia
Missing man survives two weeks trapped in snow-covered car
Missing snowmobile riders found, Roger Rouse dies from hypothermia
Olympic Champion Rulon Gardner lost on snowmobile!
Lost Olympic hockey player looses feet to cold injury

Expert skier lost five days near resort in North Cascades without map, compass, gps or cell phone
Mount Hood - The Episcopal School Tragedy
Mount Hood - experienced climbers rescued from snow cave
How can you learn the skills of snow camping?   Prospectus

Lost and Found
Three climbers missing on Mt. Hood, all perish
Missing California family found, dad dies from exposure and hypothermia
Missing man survives two weeks trapped in snow-covered car
Missing snowmobile riders found, Roger Rouse dies from hypothermia
Lost climber hikes 6.5 miles from South Sister Trail to Elk Lake
Hiking couple lost three nights in San Jacinto Wilderness find abandoned gear
Expert skier lost five days in North Cascades without Essentials, map and compass
Climber disappears on the steep snow slopes of Mount McLaughlin
Hiker lost five days in freezing weather on Mount Hood
Professor and son elude search and rescue volunteers
Found person becomes lost and eludes rescuers for five days
Teens, lost on South Sister, use cell phone with Search and Rescue
Lost man walks 27 miles to the highway from Elk Lake Oregon
Snowboarder Found After Week in Wilderness
Searchers rescue hiker at Smith Rock, find lost climbers on North Sister
Girl Found In Lane County After Lost On Hiking Trip
Search and rescue finds young girls lost from family group
Portland athlete lost on Mt. Hood
Rescues after the recent snows
Novice couple lost in the woods
Broken Top remains confirmed as missing climber
Ollalie Trail - OSU Trip - Lost, No Map, Inadequate Clothing

 Your Essential Light Day Pack
What are the new Ten Essential Systems?
What does experience tell us about Light and Fast climbing?
What is the best traditional alpine mountaineering summit pack?
What is Light and Fast alpine climbing?
What do you carry in your day pack?      Photos?    
What do you carry in your winter day pack?       Photos?    
What should I know about "space blankets"?
Where can I get a personal and a group first aid kit?      Photos?

 Carboration and Hydration
Is running the Western States 100 part of "traditional mountaineering"?
What's wrong with GORP?    Answers to the quiz!
Why do I need to count carbohydrate calories?
What should I know about having a big freeze-dried dinner?
What about carbo-ration and fluid replacement during traditional alpine climbing?   4 pages in pdf  
What should I eat before a day of alpine climbing?

  About Alpine Mountaineering:
  The Sport of Alpine Mountaineering
  Climbing Together
  Following the Leader
  The Mountaineers' Rope
  Basic Responsibilities       Cuatro Responsabiliades Basicas de Quienes Salen al Campo
  The Ten Essentials         Los Diez Sistemas Esenciales

  Our Leader's Guidelines:
  Our Volunteer Leader Guidelines
  Sign-in Agreements, Waivers and Prospectus     This pdf form will need to be signed by you at the trail head
  Sample Prospectus    Make sure every leader tells you what the group is going to do; print a copy for your "responsible person"
  Participant Information Form    This pdf form can be printed and mailed or handed to the Leader if requested or required
  Emergency and Incident Report Form    Copy and print this form. Carry two copies with your Essentials 
  Participant and Group First Aid Kit   
Print this form. Make up your own first aid essentials (kits) 

  About our World Wide Website:

  Map, Compass and GPS
Map, compass and GPS navigation training Noodle in The Badlands
BLM guidelines for Geocaching on public lands
Geocaching on Federal Forest Lands
OpEd - Geocaching should not be banned in the Badlands
Winter hiking in The Badlands WSA just east of Bend
Searching for the perfect gift
Geocaching: What's the cache?
Geocaching into the Canyon of the Deschutes
Can you catch the geocache?
Z21 covers Geocaching
Tour The Badlands with ONDA 
The art of not getting lost
Geocaching: the thrill of the hunt!
GPS in the news
A GPS and other outdoor gadgets make prized gifts
Wanna play?  Maps show you the way
Cooking the "navigation noodle"