You are probably familiar with the number “911", and know this is an emergency telephone number that provides you immediate contact with emergency personnel including police, fire and ambulance. However, there may be another feature of 911 that you are unaware of known as Enhanced 911 (E911).
Enhanced 911 Service is a feature that automatically links a physical address with the telephone number of the calling party. E911 is a North American telephone network feature of the 911 emergency-calling system, and has been made a requirement by the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999.
E911 generally works through a type of reverse phone directory that is provided by the telephone company as a computer file, which is utilized to link the caller's telephone number with the physical street address. It enables emergency responders to know how to reach the callers location, without the caller having to provide this information.
A Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) is the final destination of an E911 call, and is where the operator is located. There could be a number of PSAPs within the same telephone exchange, or a single PSAP might cover a variety of exchanges. The territories a single PSAP covers is not based on telecommunication issues as much as on historical and legal police considerations. The vast majority of PSAPs feature a regional Emergency Service Number - a number that identifies the Public Safety Answering Point.
The information regarding the location of the caller is usually integrated into the emergency dispatch center's computer-assisted dispatch system, which provides an on-screen street map to the dispatcher that highlights the position of the caller and the closest emergency responders available. In the case of Wireline (landline) E911, the location provided is an address, and for Wireless (cell phone) E911, the location provided is a coordinate. In addition, you should be aware that Enhanced 911 only works in North America when 911 is called.
The E911 service has proved to be exceptionally useful in emergency situations when it is difficult for a caller to communicate their location, such as emergencies that involve break-ins, kidnapping, or fire. E911 has shown to be a wonderful asset to the 911 emergency-calling system, and because of its usefulness and success, it is available for different types of phones including landline phones, wireless phones, and VoIP phones.
If you have a cell phone or use a VoIP phone, but are not sure if your phone features E911, you should call your service provider to find out. The reason is because not all wireless and VoIP providers offer the service yet, due to certain technical difficulties.
Furthermore, keep in mind that although 911 is the number you dial in serious emergencies, there are other services you can rely on for other minor phone “emergencies" such as a reverse phone search when you need to lookup the owner of a phone number here to find out more about who an unknown caller is.
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