A Seattle startup has developed a system that can pinpoint the exact location of mobile phone users and is aiming the technology at the emergency services.
The company, Integrated Data Communications (IDC) completed a trial of the service late last year and is now in discussions with mobile handset manufacturers, map display hardware suppliers and cellular operators to license the technology.
Andy Rimkus, vice president of marketing explained: "The caller?s location is saved graphically on a map at the 911 centre [emergency control centre] - this happens immediately - it?s as fast as the cellular call that?s coming in."
IDC has developed a technology that captures information from global positioning system (GPS) receivers and forwards this via the caller?s cellular network to the fixed wire phone network at the emergency centre. The details are then sent to the mapping system at the control centre.
The emergency staff are also able to keep track of callers even though callers may move around during the call.
IDC conducted the trial between June 1998 and November 1998 around the King County area of Washington state in the US. IDC worked with three wireless carriers: Air Touch, GTE Wireless and Nextel Communications, using handsets from a variety of manufacturers including Motorola, Nokia and Sony.
According to the results, IDC was able to pinpoint the location of a caller 100 per cent of the time. More than 50 per cent of the calls were located to within 70 feet or less, and 30 per cent of the calls to within a 40 foot radius across a variety of conditions including urban, suburban and rural.
Rimkus expects the technology to have applications all over the world and said the company has already received interest from organisations in Europe.
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