New technology empowers cell phones -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New technology empowers cell phones

October 6, 2006

Albany -- The volume of calls to the Albany 911 Center is rising dramatically, and most of those calls come from cell phones.

In the next month, Albany's emergency communication center will install the latest    technology, to better handle those cell phone calls. 

In the first six months of the year, Albany's 911 Center handled more than 108,000 calls, more than 600 per day.  And the majority are from cell phones.

Albany 911 Center Manager Julia Rainey said "It's a lot. Probably about sixty percent of our calls are cell phones."

Stacked in boxes next to the 911 Center is the latest technology upgrade equipment, that will be able to track those cell phones to with-in two or three yards.  "We would know where they are calling from. Right now we just know the closest cell site or the closest tower site," Rainey said.

Albany's 911 Center was put under the leadership of the Fire Department since September, making sure all the emergency calls are under the public safety umbrella.  Updating the 911 center technology is part of the city's drive to keep you safer but also to improve Albany's Insurance Safety Rankings, and lower your insurance rates.  

Albany Fire Chief James Carswell said, "We want to look at those technological advancements to improve our service delivery to our citizens also."

The new equipment costs $231,000, and is paid for with money from everyone's phone bill.

If an emergency call to 911 comes from a cell phone, but the caller can not talk or give his location, this new technology will instantly pinpoint the emergency caller.

"We will know exactly where the phone call is coming from, rather than three blocks  down the way," Rainey said.     

Albany's 911 center new equipment is expected to be in use by the first of November.