999 location boost

By Richard Fowler, Technical Account Manager at O2

Working for O2 has given me the opportunity to really appreciate the impact mobile technology has had on all our lives. On a personal level mobile phones have revolutionized the way I communicate and access information, but they are also a vital lifeline in times of need and emergency. Over 67% of the calls made to the UK emergency services are now being made on mobile phones, a clear reminder of the network providers responsibility.

Being able to call 999 from a mobile is fantastic but people often don’t know their exact location, especially when shocked or confused and this can lead to critical delays in response times.

As a network provider, part of what drives us is how we can use technology to make things better. O2 has a commitment to improving community safety and that’s why we’re championing AML, or ‘Advanced Mobile Location’.

Like all good ideas, it’s pretty simple. When a GPS enabled smartphone makes a 999 call it provides its exact location to the emergency services. Currently all mobile networks provide the cell site GPS coordinates for each 999 call. This could mean search areas as large as 20km in radius. This has led to around 36,000 critical searches per year taking more than half an hour, purely because the caller couldn’t provide exact information as to their whereabouts.

AML is making this a thing of the past, increasing efficiency and helping the emergency services reach people in need as quickly as possible.  O2 has AML live with one handset manufacture, another is getting ready to release a software update and two more are in the final test stage.  The service is free and invisible to customers, all that needs to happen for roll out of this potentially life-saving service is for handset manufacturers to add the feature into their smartphones, the change can then be included in the next normal software update.

This is just one of the ways innovation and technical expertise can make a real difference.  I can’t wait to see what’s next.

About Richard Fowler

A veteran of the telecommunications industry with over 17 years’ experience, 7 of which spent in the O2 Devices team managing an array of phone vendors.  From 2012 he championed the O2 Devices’ team emergency services liaison role dealing with all mobile related aspects of 999 calling.  A long term passion for good design and making technology simple.