Public Safety .
CTIA and our members work with policymakers and public safety organizations to ensure wireless technologies are used effectively and prudently to keep Americans safe.
We focus on three main areas: Wireless Emergency Alerts, 9-1-1 Location Accuracy, and Network Resiliency.
Wireless Emergency Alerts
The Wireless Emergency Alert program is the newest and most effective tool in our nation’s emergency alerting system. WEA’s ability to deliver messages to all consumers with capable mobile devices in a targeted area make them a key tool for reaching Americans in an emergency.
A WEA is a message with important information about an emergency from an authorized public safety official, including: what is happening, who is affected, and what action to take. Local, state, and federal public safety officials determine what the message says and area where the WEA is sent.
People with WEA-capable devices in the targeted area can receive these messages unless they choose to opt out. Wireless devices manufactured after 2012 likely support WEA.
The WEA system is part of our national alert system, which includes alert originators, FEMA, wireless providers, and device manufacturers. Maintaining public confidence in the WEA system should be the highest priority of all stakeholders.
For this reason, CTIA believes that:
- WEA’s should be used effectively and prudently by the public safety community through best practices, training, and technologies.
- The WEA program should evolve consistent with available technologies that ensure WEA messages can be sent rapidly and received by Americans.
9-1-1 Location Accuracy
Dialing 9-1-1 is the most important call you may make. Wireless has made it possible to make that call from wherever there is an emergency.
For decades now, we’ve leveraged new technologies to make it easier and faster for first responders to find you. Lives have been saved and crises averted, thanks to these efforts. That work has only become more important as many people cut the cord and go wireless-only.
The ability to pinpoint a caller’s exact location can be more challenging in certain situations—for instance, if the caller is in a multi-story building where a floor, office suite, or apartment number may be needed to effectively send help. Finding the technologies that can provide that level of accuracy is an ongoing effort and the wireless industry is continuously evaluating new ways to further enhance 9-1-1 location accuracy.
One the most promising technologies tested over the last few years has been device-based hybrid (DBH) which harness commercially available technologies to produce a high-accuracy horizontal location, particularly indoors. DBH solutions use crowd-sourced Wi-Fi measurements similar to the way consumers use ride-sharing and mapping apps. These solutions have been used to meet the FCC’s horizontal location accuracy requirements on schedule. Based on this success, the wireless industry and public safety community have been working together to encourage the development of similar technology approaches to vertical location.
To test these and other indoor 9-1-1 location-accuracy solutions, the wireless industry developed the 9-1-1 Location Technologies Test Bed.
The wireless industry is committed to enhancing 9-1-1 location accuracy capabilities and has harnessed device-based solutions to significantly enhance horizontal location accuracy. CTIA and our member companies will continue to test and evaluate whether similar solutions can deliver accurate vertical location information. Policymakers can help by continuing to support the wireless industry as we develop and implement these tools. For example, the FCC should ensure that the vertical 9-1-1 location rules, metrics and benchmarks account for these emerging device-based technologies.
States and localities can also help by ensuring their emergency call centers take advantage of technologies and practices that can quickly and effectively use caller location information from wireless providers.
Wireless serves as a key lifeline during storms, natural disasters, and other emergencies. Providing that lifeline is the industry’s goal every day.
Wireless networks have been tested by emergencies, and providers have committed significant resources to incorporate lessons learned into our preparation and response plans. We have worked—and continue to work—closely with the FCC and other federal, state, and local officials to ensure our networks are strong and resilient.
The industry continues to develop and implement information sharing, disaster preparation, and recovery initiatives—like the Wireless Resiliency Framework—to help us sustain wireless communications during and after disasters. The framework is a voluntary industry initiative that enables wireless networks to be more prepared when disaster strikes and get back online faster.
Disasters and emergencies can impact communities—and wireless networks and services—in vastly different ways. That’s why policymakers should also provide wireless providers the flexibility to tailor network resiliency and continuity of service plans to the unique needs of individual localities.
State and local governments should incorporate best practices—developed by CTIA in collaboration with state and local public safety officials—for their jurisdictions to use in emergencies.
Denser wireless networks—with hundreds of thousands of small cells—will also make networks more resilient. Policymakers at the federal, state, and local level can help by modernizing infrastructure siting rules and processes for next-generation network infrastructure like small cells.