Mobile phone emergency calls flaw

The emergency response centre told The Standard this week it had campaigned for several years for telcos to introduce technology similar to that used in Europe and North America, where mobile calls automatically bring up a GPS location.

The emergency response centre told The Standard this week it had campaigned for several years for telcos to introduce technology similar to that used in Europe and North America, where mobile calls automatically bring up a GPS location.

A MAJOR flaw in mobile phone systems that makes it difficult to pinpoint the location of emergency callers should be improved by the end of September, according to Telstra.

Prompted by The Standard’s investigation into delays in determining the site of a Port Fairy road accident on Sunday afternoon, the telco said yesterday all mobile phone carriers were in the process of implementing changes to their networks.

“The deployment of this upgrade will be fully implemented by the end of September,” a Telstra spokesman said.

“Emergency services will be required to make the appropriate changes to their operating systems to accept this data.”

However, the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority which handles triple-0 calls said the telcos’ promised improvements needed more refinement. Port Fairy woman Rosemary Arnold, 80, was forced to lay in pain  assisted by Premier and South West Coast MP Denis Napthine while an ESTA call-taker scrambled to get an exact location.

It took 95 seconds to determine the location was called Skenes Road and another 54 seconds to despatch a local ambulance crew.

 Ms Arnold and others at the scene gave a verbal description of the spot outside the Belfast Lough airstrip and near the golf club, but ESTA needed an exact street name and location before despatching an ambulance.

Triple-0 calls from a landline produce an address for the national call centre, but there is no such indication on mobile calls.

The emergency response centre told The Standard this week it had campaigned for several years for telcos to introduce technology similar to that used in Europe and North America, where mobile calls automatically bring up a GPS location.

Ambulance Victoria agreed that such technology would reduce complications in sending crews to emergencies.

The Victorian government also acknowledged mobile origin location information (MOLI) was important technology.

A spokeswoman for Emergency Services Minister Kim Wells encouraged people to download a mobile phone application called Emergency+  which helps triple-0 callers identify their location using smartphone GPS technology.

“The location of a caller is the first most important piece of information the triple-0 operator needs,”  the minister’s office said.

Telstra said it, Optus and Vodafone Hutchison Australia were implementing MOLI for all mobile-originated emergency calls to the call centre and to emergency service organisations.

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