Australian Emergency Calls From Mobiles Now Have Location Information

Of the 8.3 million calls made to Triple Zero (000) for fire, police or ambulance services in 2014 to 2015, 66.9 per cent -- 5.6 million -- were from mobile phones. Now calls to 000 from mobile phones will contain improved location information, following upgrades to the 000 service.

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"Locating callers quickly in an emergency situation is vital, and I congratulate the mobile carriers and emergency services organisations (ESOs) on this tremendous initiative," said acting ACMA Chairman, Richard Bean.

"Optus, Vodafone, Telstra (in its capacity as mobile carrier, the emergency call provider and initial answering point for Triple Zero 000 calls) and ESOs have been working in partnership to upgrade their relevant systems," he added.

Announced at a recent meeting of the Australian Communications and Media Authority's Emergency Call Services Advisory Committee, all ESOs throughout Australia have implemented functionality to automatically receive better information about the location of a mobile caller to 000.

Unlike fixed landline phones, emergency calls from mobile phones have not previously been able to automatically give emergency services potentially helpful information about the caller's location.

Emergency services can now receive automated location information derived from the mobile networks for most phone calls to 000. In some circumstances this will be a very helpful supplement to information provided verbally by the caller about their location.

Caller location can potentially be narrowed down to a radius ranging from 50 metres to 90 kilometres, with the degree of accuracy influenced by the number of base stations within a given handset's vicinity. Accuracy is greater in built-up and more urban areas where the majority of calls originate and less accurate but still useful where base station deployment is sparse, more likely in rural or remote areas.

Australia's Triple Zero Awareness Working Group released a mobile smart phone app -- Emergency + -- in December 2013 for iOS, Android and recent Windows handsets to take advantage of handset GPS capability. The app shows users GPS coordinates which can then be verbally passed on to emergency services.