New US Patent for Technology Supporting Text-to-911 Functionality Announced by LaaSer Critical Communications
LaaSer Critical Communications (http://laaser911.com/) has received yet another U.S. patent (US patent #9,807,581) for its emergency caller location technology. The newest patent covers systems and methods associated with locating people who use text-to-911 and routing their messages to the appropriate public safety answering point (PSAP), as well as providing accurate location data on anyone sending an emergency text.
Many of the same challenges that apply to voice call routing and caller geolocation likewise apply to those using SMS or other alternative methods of communicating with 911. In fact, texting even introduces a few new issues. For instance, texting is an asynchronous form of communication, so any delays caused by improper routing are amplified. Currently, fewer than a quarter of the nation’s 6,000-plus PSAPs can receive text messages from the public, but that number is growing rapidly.
“Our newly patented technology will go a long way toward making text-to-911 work as an effective method of connecting with emergency services,” says LaaSer Cofounder and Chief Architect Michael Self. “Naturally, people should make voice calls in an emergency if possible, but sometimes texting is necessary. People with hearing impairments or people who are unable to speak for whatever reason could notify emergency services more easily via text-to-911.”
In May 2014, the four major wireless carriers agreed to provide text functionality to 911 call centers if requested (source). That functionality must be delivered within six months of any request. The FCC encourages all PSAPs to accept 911 communications via SMS, but individual call centers must decide if and how to implement this service given its infrastructure, budget and other considerations. Part of LaaSer’s mission is to make these decisions a no-brainer for PSAPs by delivering an optimal solution that ensures that alternative methods of communicating with 911 are able to work with accurate location and appropriate routing.
“The nation’s 911 system is in a significant transition with respect to its technical infrastructure and capabilities,” says LaaSer CEO Fred White. “The text-to-911 and Next Generation 911 implementations around the country don’t address the fundamental issue of locating people who are contacting 911 from their mobile devices. Our solution is to leverage mobile handset technology to improve emergency response times and to ultimately save lives.”
As with voice calls, a significant technical challenge with modern 911 systems is ensuring that the right PSAP receives the message. This challenge is especially pronounced near jurisdictional boundaries where cell tower coverage regions overlap. Affected municipalities must study the local geography in deciding how best to route calls. But with mobile phone users, this strategy becomes complicated because individual cell towers coverage areas can span multiple jurisdictions. That’s where LaaSer’s patented and proven methods come into play.
LaaSer takes advantage of the sophisticated technologies that are loaded into virtually every modern handset, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. The system precisely locates a caller — or texter — at the moment the communication is initiated, ensuring that call routing is optimal. LaaSer does not introduce any delay to the system. Nor does the company’s solution require the replacement of legacy systems.
When an individual sends a text to a call center that does not accept SMS communications, the wireless carrier must send a bounce-back message informing the texter of this fact. The FCC has published a master list of PSAPs that support text-to-911; this list is updated each month.
LaaSer’s latest patent comes on the heels of — and builds upon — a similar patent covering voice caller location technology. As a pioneer of these innovative systems, the company anticipates additional patent announcements in the near future.
About LaaSer Critical Communications
LaaSer Critical Communications, a Techstars company, is dedicated to solving the problems associated with contacting emergency services from mobile devices. LaaSer has created patented technology that pinpoints a 911 caller’s location using any mobile device, efficiently routes them to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), and provides the emergency operator with precise location information. LaaSer’s technology works seamlessly with existing cellular provider and public safety networks and systems, in both legacy and next generation 911 (NG911) environments.