Low Tech 911 - 911Buddy™

Low Tech 911

I am lucky to work in a 911 center in a small town where there is a commitment to emergency services of the highest quality. We get the latest equipment, training (even out of town), and solid pay and benefits. It’s hard to get a job well paid like mine in a town where most jobs depend on the tourist industry and seasonal work hours. On of the benefits is that I get the latest equipment as well, what is known as enhanced 911. Even so, our ability to locate your cellphone call when you dial 911 is a 50-50 proposition at best.

The cellphone companies in the US recently announced they plan to have the ability to locate 911 callers accurately about 50% of the time by 2021. If you pause and consider that information a little bit, you can see how important it is for you to know where you are when you call for help. In an age when the pocket phone you rely on has an app for every conceivable purpose it’s hard for a lot of people to understand how clunky modern 911 systems are.  We have no access to text or video apps, and our geography aids are static, in as much as we rely on that good old civilian standby: Google maps! There are moves to upgrade technology to receive texts in 911 centers, but frankly, that is a technology I fear will open doors to 911 abuse as never before, so we shall have to see.

This lack of technology is confusing to the general public. Tonight I got a call from a mother worried about her adult son on vacation in Key West. He had come to our city and left behind no travel plans with his family, so when they didn’t hear from him they naturally called the police to see if we could locate him. “Can’t you trace his phone location?” they asked, impatient at my stupidity.  Their idea was to give me the missing son’s phone number which I could then feed into a miracle machine, and expect it to spit out the exact location of the phone.

Naturally, if I can’t find a 911 caller with any accuracy, I certainly can’t locate a phone in someone’s pocket!  Part of the reason I think my app is so useful is because 911Buddy provides a modern connection to the 911 system. You can use my app on our smartphone to connect to 911 anywhere in the country. Because 911 buddy is on your smartphone, YOU can access the apps you want, like location services, and pass on the information you glean to the 911 operator. You can do this for a friend in a  distant town as easily as opening the app. Otherwise, without 911Buddy, you are simply talking to a landline service.