TruePosition and its fully-controlled FindMe911 coalition is at it again, spreading misinformation and ill-informed criticisms of the APCO, NENA, and Wireless Industry Roadmap for Improving Location Accuracy. Others have blogged to explain the benefits and merits of the Roadmap, and it’s our experience that the more people hear about the voluntary agreement and fully understand the enormous improvements it will bring to finding wireless callers in times of emergency, the more they like it and support it.
We don’t expect to convert TruePosition, or its well-known spokesperson Jamie Barnett, but we can set the record straight on the misinformation campaign they are waging in an attempt to raise fears, uncertainties and doubts.
TruePosition alleges that the carrier approach depends entirely on “new and untested technologies.” Setting aside the fact that TruePosition did not participate in the independent test bed established by the FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) and that its technologies are not mentioned even once in the FCC’s test report, this allegation is simply not true. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies have been in use for years in commercial location services, and are central to the current wireless ecosystem in ways that will drive strong incentives for further innovation and lasting relevance for years to come. By associating enhanced 911 (e911) with commercial location services, public safety can harness that innovation to its direct benefit – and the benefit of wireless consumers everywhere – rather than having to settle for proprietary 911-only location solutions that evolve only in response to new mandates. In contrast, the database approach of the Roadmap enables continual improvements in indoor location accuracy without need of a lengthy carrier-deployment process.
TruePosition also wrongly suggests that the Roadmap doesn’t require carriers to provide dispatchable address/location. Again, not true. There are specific requirements for the carriers to build a dispatchable address database and to enable 100% of handsets sold to support the dispatchable address functionality. And given this investment and increasingly difficult performance metrics, carriers will use dispatchable addresses to meet these milestones. It is a win for public safety and a win for consumers.
The assertion that the milestones are weaker than those proposed by the FCC is yet another TruePosition red herring. The metrics proposed in the Roadmap drive toward the same results as the FCC’s proposed rules, but add a critical component that has drawn praise from those that recognize its value – requiring the use of live 911 call data versus test-call data for evaluating performance and compliance. The Roadmap’s benchmarks also recognize that the initial targets proposed by the Commission were aspirational but not achievable using any currently available technology.
TruePosition further mistakenly claims that there is no “vertical accuracy component to the voluntary agreement.” This perhaps is the biggest untruth. The Roadmap contains multiple components that address vertical accuracy. Dispatchable address, by definition, includes civic address and additional information when necessary to identify the location of the 911 caller, including the specific apartment, suite or floor. Dispatchable address is, in fact, the best vertical accuracy information available to find a 911 caller indoors and is what public safety has been relying on in wireline networks for decades. Moreover, the Roadmap proposes additional study of the value of barometric pressure sensors in devices and the potential, if appropriate, to provide uncompensated barometric pressure info from devices with compatible chipsets.
By contrast, the FCC’s proposed vertical component – a three-meter vertical accuracy benchmark coupled with a 50-meter horizontal search circle ring radius – might in many instances pose challenges for first responders trying to identify the right building, much less the right floor or suite.
Finally, and what speaks volumes about the company’s true intent, TruePosition casts aspersions on GLONASS technology, painting it as a Russian threat to U.S. wireless infrastructure. TruePosition itself relied on this technology for accuracy performance in their own “test report” so this alarmist criticism is baffling and rings particularly hollow. The bottom line is that the use of GLONASS chips in handsets does not create any security threats. These chipsets are “receive only” and do not transmit data back to the satellites, and U.S. carriers have complete control over the usage of this data. In the end, the Great Russian threat is just another TruePosition bogeyman.
We certainly understand TruePosition’s desire to maintain some relevance in the location-accuracy solutions marketplace, but they should do that by offering a compelling technology solution – not by serving up false criticisms and deceptive arguments.
APCO and NENA have led the way on public safety issues for decades. The FindMe911 Coalition, by contrast, didn’t even exist last year and will cease to exist as soon as TruePosition quits paying its bills. It’s unfortunate that TruePosition opted to sit out of the CSRIC process instead of working with the industry and contributing its resources toward helping public safety in its tireless efforts to assist wireless callers when they dial 911 for help.