Enhanced 911, or E-911, is an enhanced version of a typical Caller ID system. The difference between Enhanced 911 and regular Caller ID is the amount of information provided to dispatchers when you call 911. Regular Caller ID provides the caller's name and phone number. Enhanced 911 displays the caller's name, phone number, street address, apartment or space numbers, the type of phone, additional phone numbers at that location, and a recommendation for police, fire, or paramedic response. It also keeps numbers from being blocked, even if they are unlisted.
Having the location immediately displayed on each 911 call allows the dispatcher to quickly confirm the location where help is needed. The sooner our dispatchers can verify a location, the sooner they can send help to you.
In 2003, the Ada County Sheriff's Office became the first agency in Idaho to become capable of receiving enhanced 911 information from wireless telephone providers. The Federal Communications Commission required all wireless telephone service providers to implement E-911 technology that would work in dispatch centers by October 1, 2001. Additionally, the FCC required that they have 95% of their subscribers using those handsets by December 31, 2005. In their Project Locate documents, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO International) listed the Ada County Sheriff's Office Dispatch Center as a model for the implementation of this technology.
Wireless E-911 can determine the location of the caller or handset by either using cell towers or a global positioning system in the phone itself. How your call would be located depends on your service provider and the type of phone you have. E-911 allows a dispatcher to pinpoint your location on a map within 30-300 feet in most cases.
How do I know if my cell phone is E-911 compatible?
While the federal government requires wireless companies to be compliant with E-911 rules, you need to check with your service provider or phone manufacturer to get details about your specific phone. Those sold today do have global positioning system (GPS) chips. Owners of older phones are encouraged to upgrade to or purchase new GPS-equipped phones.