Casey and Toomey Call on FCC to Improve 911 Call Accuracy

- Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to work to ensure greater call accuracy for 911 systems. In a letter, the senators highlighted the need for better tools to assist first responders to locate callers using cellular phones, citing concerns raised by Pennsylvania law enforcement, including the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

“It’s critical that first responders are able to locate those in need of emergency services quickly and accurately,” Senator Casey said. “I’m calling on the FCC to give law enforcement the tools they need to that help those in distress receive timely help in urgent situations.”

“Ensuring that our first responders have the latest tools they need to locate the scene of an emergency is essential,” said Senator Toomey. “Better location accuracy will enable our first responders, who bravely serve us each day, to save even more lives. With this in mind, I am urging the FCC to adopt standards and ensure that when Pennsylvanians call 911, they receive life-saving help as quickly as possible.”

The text of the letter is below:

The Honorable Thomas E. Wheeler
Federal Communications Commission
445 Twelfth Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554

Dear Chairman Wheeler,

We were pleased to learn that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is seeking to ensure greater location accuracy for our nation’s 911 systems.

As we understand it, the FCC’s proposed rule addressing “Wireless E911 Location Accuracy Requirements” would give first responders an important tool to assist them in locating 911 callers who, under the current system, oftentimes cannot be located or assisted in a timely manner because they made their 911 call on a cellular phone from indoors.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, two-thirds of 911 calls made in Delaware County Pennsylvania (a county of 561,000 residents) have inaccurate location information.”
We have also heard concerns from Pennsylvania law enforcement. The Major Cities Chiefs Association, including chiefs of the two largest municipal police departments in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, have also urged the FCC to act to improve first responders’ ability to locate 911 callers who use cellular phones indoors.

We encourage the FCC to adopt the most protective standards that are technologically feasible. We also hope the FCC will thoroughly examine the record with an eye toward ensuring any future requirements are flexible to accommodate evolving technologies. It is our understanding that the FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC IV) is currently working to provide the FCC a report with recommendations for indoor testing, including setting up parameters for a common test bed to examine technologies. This effort would help create a single, standardized method for evaluating the ability of current and emerging technologies for the purpose of improving indoor location of wireless 911 callers.

Law enforcement agencies, first responders, and the citizens of Pennsylvania who rely on their aid deserve a fast, effective 911 system. We encourage you to continue pursuing measures to achieve that goal. Thank you for your consideration of this important issue.


Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator

Pat Toomey
U.S. Senator

cc: Commissioner Mignon Clyburn
Commissioner Michael O’Rielly
Commissioner Ajit Pai
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel

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