Public Safety Officials Criticize Industry’s Z-Axis Proposal

Public safety officials today criticized the wireless industry’s proposed standard for z-axis, or vertical, accuracy for indoor 911 location, saying that it should pinpoint callers better. During a meeting this afternoon via teleconference of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council, the public safety officials said they have made their opposition to the proposed industry standard known. The NPSTC governing board voted to authorize the federation to weigh in on the proposal at the FCC.

In the proposal submitted last month (TR Daily, Aug. 7), the four nationwide wireless carriers recommended a z-axis metric “of +/- 5 meters for 80% of fixes from mobile devices capable of delivering barometric pressure sensor-based altitude estimates.”

The proposal was included in a cover letter to a report on the results of indoor location accuracy testing conducted by a test bed established by CTIA on behalf of the industry.

The z-axis accuracy standard proposal from the carriers was required by a 911 location accuracy order adopted by the FCC in 2015 (TR Daily, Jan. 29, 2015). The FCC will now consider what standard to adopt.

Jim Goldstein, manager—government relations for the International Association of Fire Chiefs, complained today that the standard amounted to an accuracy standard of three floors of a building. He and others suggested a better standard, which they said is technically possible, is +/- 1.5 meters, or a total variation of 3 meters or one floor of a building.

He said that public safety representatives objected to the industry’s inclusion of the recommendation in the body of the testing report, and that it was then removed.

He also said that Chris Sambar, senior vice president–FirstNet for AT&T, Inc., has suggested that AT&T could meet the 3-meter variation for the First Responder Network Authority network it is building.

Sharon Counterman, NENA’s NPSTC representative, said her group also supports the 3-meter z-axis variation standard.

Derek Poarch, chief executive officer and executive director of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, also criticized the proposed industry standard and said APCO planned to submit comments to the FCC on it and that NPSTC should as well. He said APCO has made it clear to the industry that it opposes the standard. “I think they’re stalling. I think they’ve taken advantage of our willingness to work with them,” Mr. Poarch said of the industry.

CTIA said today it did not have any immediate comment on the public safety criticism.

Also during today’s meeting, Mr. Goldstein questioned the usefulness to public safety of device-based hybrid (DBH) location technology solutions, which CTIA said yesterday the four nationwide carriers would deploy by the end of this year, although some already offer it (TR Daily, Sept. 5).

Mr. Goldstein said he doesn’t remember CTIA ever bringing up the use of the technology in advisory groups that include public safety representatives.

“One of the problems we’ve had with CTIA and the other carriers ….was the lack of transparency,” he said.

He said that while use of the DBH technology is “an improvement,” he questioned its usefulness when power is out during emergencies, noting its reliance on solutions such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi offerings.

Also during today’s meeting, the NPSTC governing board approved a report from the EMS working group on “Prehospital Notification in Time Sensitive Medical Emergencies,” and a report from the cross-border working group on best practices for 911 data sharing.

And Dusty Rhoads, chief of the Public Safety and National Security Governance Branch in the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Emergency Communications, said that OEC hopes to have a draft of the updated National Emergency Communications Plan available for review by SAFECOM “closer to the end of the calendar year.” The NECP is scheduled to be released next year, he noted. —Paul Kirby,

Courtesy TRDaily