After years of promises and hype, location-based wireless E911 services are still not available in much of the US. While the federal government spends billions on homeland security, the nation's emergency call centers still do not have the funds needed to deploy the technology that would enable them to track distress calls made from cell phones. Nearly one-third of the country's 190 million 911 calls are now made from cell phones, and that number will only grow as more consumers abandon landlines in favor of wireless-only access. There are two issues blocking the development of this necessary technology. First, no one federal agency has the authority or mandate to direct the development of a centralized E911 system. The second is that the majority of states that collected E911 fees through taxes are now so cash-strapped that they have been forced to divert these funds to other areas.
For more on problems facing nationwide E911:
- see this story from today's Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)