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9-1-1 Cell Phones

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November 14, 2003
by Scott Hunter

Albany--  In less than a week wireless users will be allowed to switch their home phone numbers to their cell phones. As more people use cell phones more often, 9-1-1 workers hope new technology will help protect users in an emergency.

Joanne Jasper is a traveling grandmother who takes her cell phone wherever she goes. "I used it from Georgia to Maine and I was in 19 states," exclaims Joanne. A car accident early this year taught Joanne having a cell phone could save your life.

And as thousands of Americans and southwest Georgian switch to cells, 9-1-1 officials are working to push wireless companies to improve technology so they can pinpoint the location of callers.

"It's a real big concern because if we don't know the location of where the person is calling from then we can't help them," says Albany communication manger, Julia Rainey.

Eighteen thousand of Albany's annual 911 calls come from cell phones. But the city's current system can only show a caller's address. Until phones come equipped with global satellite position chips emergency operators must depend on callers to tell them where they are.

The city says it has the money to buy new location technology when its time. But cell phone companies say there are options if you want safety now. GPS services offer attachment for your phones so 911 workers can find you. There are currently about 80,000 cell phone users in the Albany area.

posted at 6:10PM by scott.hunter@walb.com

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