Courtesy TRDaily: Verizon Fires Back at Coalition Criticism of 911 Location Accuracy

Verizon Communications, Inc., has fired back at the contention that nine out of 10 wireless calls made in Washington, D.C., during the first half of last year were delivered without accurate location information.  The filing by Verizon in PS docket 07-114 responded to a news release issued earlier this month (TRDaily, July 10) by the Find Me 911 Coalition, which said it obtained data filed with the FCC through a Freedom of Information Act request. The coalition receives financial support from TruePosition, Inc., a location technology vendor, and the coalition’s director is also counsel for TruePosition.

“In contrast to the productive collaboration among industry and public safety stakeholders, the TruePosition-affiliated FindMe911 Coalition continues to repeat its misleading claims about carriers’ 911 call performance, this time for data provided to the Commission by the District of Columbia (the ‘District’),” Verizon said in its July 25 filing. “Verizon does not take lightly such allegations and undertook an internal review of its own performance data in response to the claims. Verizon representatives met Wednesday with representatives of the District’s Office of Unified Communications (OUC) to discuss the findings summarized below. Those findings confirm that Verizon is delivering caller location information for a substantial majority of 911 calls in the District consistent with Commission rules.”

Verizon said it “provided location data derived from its ‘Assisted-GPS’ Phase II solution to the PSAP for 84 percent of 911 calls in the District. The performance statistic that FindMe911 attributes to Verizon of below 25 percent, and the FindMe911 Director (also serving as TruePosition’s counsel) characterizing the remaining 75 percent as ‘emergency callers [that] cannot be located on wireless phones,’ are not supported by the facts. … Verizon was limited to delivering ‘Phase I’ information (cell sector location data) to the OUC for only approximately 16 percent of the total 911 calls – a far cry from the over 75 percent figure alleged by FindMe911.”

Verizon added that it “delivered Phase II location information in a timely fashion, within 11 seconds on average, but FindMe911 and the media reports respectively ignored and misstated the significance of the PSAP retrieval process in evaluating the District’s data. The components of Phase II data delivery and the PSAPs’ need to retrieve that data when the 911 call arrives and at a standard interval thereafter are well-documented and acknowledged by the Commission.”

The carrier said that it “is working with its E911 Phase II vendor to gather additional data, but our analysis for the one-month period of January 2014 indicates that a follow-up retrieval was performed for only a small fraction of 911 calls made within the District – under 2 percent. Verizon discussed this data with the OUC Wednesday and understands that it does not routinely employ the standard retrieval process because that process has often created issues with presentation of location data to the call takers at the OUC’s premises. Verizon has committed to conduct joint testing with the OUC to better assess this matter.”

In response to Verizon’s filing, Jamie Barnett, director of the Find Me 911 Coalition, told TRDaily today, “I can understand why the wireless carriers are lashing out: their 9-1-1- location accuracy is embarrassing.  Remember, this is data that was given to the FCC by the DC Unified Communications Center based on its experience over that time period. It is completely consistent with data from elsewhere in the nation.

“The facts may be inconvenient, but they are not inaccurate,” Mr. Barnett added.  “This data was provided by the DC government to the FCC, at the request of the FCC, and it’s supported by similar data from across the country and a survey of more than 1,000 PSAP professionals in all 50 states showing that PSAPs are not getting the accurate and timely location data they need to find callers. That’s why 99% of 9-1-1 professionals in the field support the FCC’s proposed rule to improve wireless 9-1-1 location accuracy, and 97% oppose any delay in the two-year implementation for the rule.”- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com