So last week, on Last Week Tonight, John Oliver shocked a lot of people with some truth:Uber can find you faster than 911 call centers. We need to do a major upgrade of our 911 call centers. It is beyond critical. First, watch. Then we will come back to talk government. And solutions.
It’s not news that here at Indivisible, we love our 911 emergency response.
We make 240 million calls to 9-1-1 a year. About 70% of those are from cell phones. That number is going up as more of us give up, or have never had, a land line. “As of 2006, 99% of the U.S. population had access to 9-1-1.” And every one of them is because government makes it possible.
But it’s also true that 911 centers are woefully underfunded and completely taken for granted, just when we need to make some big investments in them. We assume that 911 will always be there. And it will. But because they can’t tell where we are because our phones are not longer tied to a wall, they won’t be able to find us unless we find them some new technology and some new money.
Government has some potential solutions. Our current commercial grade GPS can’t do a lot of things. Like tell what floor we are on or exactly where we are (even Uber has a hard time with that). But you know what can? Military grade GPS. As frequent Indivisible readers will remember,
Today, there are two GPS services in existence. The Standard Positioning Service is the one used by us civilians, while the Precise Positioning Service is available only to the U.S. military and the militaries of U.S. allies. A modernization program is working to eliminate the already minimal accuracy difference between military and civilian GPS, but military GPS will still have certain important advantages (enhanced security and jam resistance, for example).
When government agencies can work together to share data and resources, we can ramp up our services exponentially. I’m ImagineGov’ing where our Precise Positioning Service is put to work to upgrade our 911 emergency response to far beyond what Uber could dream of. How do we make it possible? First we dream. Then we do.