posted by Josh Goodman
Studious Governing.com readers might have noticed the Daily Digit stating that only 1% of Oklahoma residents live in areas where 911 callers from cell phones can be located precisely. As a recent GAO report pointed out, Oklahoma isn't the only state that has this problem.
Officials distinguish between "Phase I" and "Phase II" 911 location identifying service. Under Phase I, 911 operators can identify a caller's general location based on the cell tower or cell site that receives the call. Phase II is more precise. A caller's location can usually be identified within 50-300 meters.
The Oklahoma statistic refers to Phase II coverage -- the state is in the 40%-60% range for Phase I. A few states are actually worse off. The GAO report has a handy map on page 10 (page 14 of the PDF) that shows how each one is doing. Ohio, Wisconsin, Montana, Utah and Hawaii all have less than 40% of their populations with Phase I coverage.
Officials from several states told GAO that insufficient funding was the reason they weren't making progress faster. But, given that close to 82 million 911 calls are placed annually from cell phones, shouldn't this be a priority for state budgeters?