Emergency leaders call on Congress and FCC to fix outdated 9-1-1 systems nationwide

Posted at 10:13 PM, Feb 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-15 01:26:25-05

Hundreds of national and local 9-1-1 emergency communications leaders are in Washington D.C. this week to ask Congress the FCC to prioritize and fund “Next Generation 9-1-1” systems.

Among the topics on the agenda include addressing wireless location accuracy issues and fixing outdated computer software and technology being used at dispatch centers across the nation and right here in Colorado.

Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Maryland), FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and NENA (National Emergency Number Association) CEO Brian Fontes are among the key players meeting on Capitol Hill.

Earlier this month, News 5 Investigates showed you how 9-1-1 call centers don’t always know exactly where wireless callers are located.

News organizations in other states have also aired coverage on a problem that has proven deadly.

In Georgia, a woman drowned after 9-1-1 dispatchers couldn’t find her location.

In Ohio, a teenager died in his parents minivan after he got trapped underneath a bench seat. He was able to dial 9-1-1, but dispatchers weren’t able to get an exact location.

As the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office explained, cells phones bounce off towers. Initially, a dispatcher may only get a tower address which could be several miles away from where the caller is located.

After about 10-20 seconds, the system will usually refresh itself to give dispatchers a more precise location. In most cases, the location is pretty accurate, but not exact.

The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office says it has already received funding and approval to upgrade its systems to enhanced 9-1-1 technology. This will allow dispatchers to not only get a more exact location quicker, but the call taker will also be able to know what floor of a building you are calling from.

The Colorado Springs Police Department says it’s in the process of upgrading its 9-1-1 system as well.

This story will be updated as new information becomes available. If you have a problem or issue you’d like our News 5 Investigates team to look into, please call our tip line at 719-228-6275 or send an email to