Public Safety Renews Concerns About ‘Dispatchable Location’ Definition

The public safety community today reiterated concern about how it says the wireless industry is interpreting “dispatchable location” in implementing 911 location accuracy rules that the FCC adopted in 2015 (TR Daily, Jan. 29, 2015), and it asked the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to clarify the definition.

“We are writing today with an ongoing concern about how the wireless industry is interpreting ‘dispatchable location’ for 9-1-1 location accuracy purposes, within the framework of the FCC’s Fourth Report and Order,” the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council said in a letter in PS docket 07-114 to Lisa Fowlkes, chief of the Public Safety Bureau. “As defined by the Commission, dispatchable location means ‘the verified or corroborated street address of the calling party plus additional information such as floor, suite, apartment or similar information that may be needed to adequately identify the location of the calling party.’  With this information in hand, 9-1-1 professionals can help direct field responders to the scene of the emergency and enable them to provide life-saving assistance more quickly.

“Under the FCC’s rules, wireless carriers must provide a dispatchable location or a horizontal fix in the x,y plane within 50 meters for increasing percentages of all wireless 9-11 calls.  Therefore, a carrier seeking to comply with these benchmarks by providing a dispatchable location may only do so if the location it provides to PSAPs meets the FCC’s definition of dispatchable location,” the filing added. “For example, if a Wi-Fi access point is located across the street in a different building, carriers may not describe the physical address of this access point as being the ‘dispatchable location’ of the calling party.  Any related definitions resulting from the industry’s standards development activities such as through ATIS cannot be used to depart from the FCC’s definition of dispatchable location for regulatory compliance purposes.  Consistent with the Order, to be counted towards compliance, a location fix described by a carrier as a ‘dispatchable location’ must be ‘which door to open’ when assistance is required and nothing less.

“We understand that the Bureau has indicated agreement in the past that for compliance purposes, carriers must abide by the FCC’s definition of dispatchable location,” the public safety federation added. “As implementation of the Order continues, we respectfully request the Bureau to provide a formal response reemphasizing the definition of dispatchable location, to ensure that all carriers subject to this requirement understand and comply with the meaning and intent of this critical element of the Order.”

Last year, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials, and the National Sheriffs’ Association expressed concern about the industry’s interpretation of “dispatchable location” (TR Daily, Feb. 22 and April 28, 2017). — Courtesy TR Daily