Small town leads in 911 cell phone tracking - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Small town leads in 911 cell phone tracking

August 23, 2004

Camilla-- One small south Georgia town is ahead the rest.

"Mitchell 911, can I help you?" says 911 Dispatcher Tangelyn Murray.

"If I had an actual emergency, could you get my location please?" asks 911 Director Clark Harrell. With the help of global positioning satellite technology, Mitchell County 911 dispatchers pinpoint the area where their director Clark Harrell is standing.

He's calling from a GPS Alltel Phone. "You're going to be on Highway 37 and Flint Road," answers the dispatcher. "Thank you very much," Harrell said.

"If you've got somebody who's too upset to talk we will dispatch someone because we know something is going on in that area, in that location," Murray says.

Before the new GPS technology, Mitchell 911 was only able to find the tower your cell phone was linked to, But now, 95 percent of the time they can narrow the search to 500 feet.

"It's new to southwest Georgia and to Mitchell County," said Harrell. But, with new technology, there's always a catch. "What people need to know is they have to have a GPS telephone," said Harrell.

And right now, in Mitchell County, it has to be Alltel. "It's just Alltel right now, I'm working with Verizon, Southern Link, Cingular."

When the Alltel GPS call comes in, it automatically shows up on a map. Dispatchers thank Harrell for making their job less stressful. "With him being advanced in technology, it puts us on the map," said Murray.

The next step is to get GPS equipment hooked up in ambulances, so if they get lost, dispatchers can guide them in the right direction, which is exactly where the 911 center is heading.

If you've ever wondered where the 911 charge on your cell phone bill goes, part of that is supposed to go to your local 911 center to upgrade in cellular technology.

posted at 4:50PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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