Turning Cellphones Into Lifelines
The recent rescue of a mother and her two daughters from a remote region in Oregon highlights the benefits of cellular technology over standalone GPS navigation products in rescue operations.
“Navigation tools may help someone if they need to understand where they are to get to safety,” says Kiyoshi Hamai, director of sales and product management with Mio Technology, a vendor of portable navigation devices using GPS technology. “But in order for someone to find you, you really need a device, like a cellphone, that can provide two-way communication.”
Cellphones are practically a staple in U.S. households today, with 230 million Americans subscribing to a service. The infrastructure supporting the technology is spreading to even the remotest of locations, and the technology’s very nature ensures constant communications between cellphone and cell tower to update locations.
With the FCC pushing operators to provide E911 service, pinpoint capabilities will only be improved. The service depends on GPS chips embedded in phones that allow rescue personnel to send pings to mobile devices to track approximate locations.
New phones sold by Verizon, Sprint Nextel, and Alltel have the chips included to comply with the federal mandate. Operators like Helio, Disney Mobile, and Boost Wireless already provide tracking services using GPS-embedded phones.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from USA Today (12/05/06); Reardon, Marguerite.