Whenever you call an emergency response number, police want to track your location so that they know where send responders. During the time when most people relied on landline phones, it was easy for police and emergency response units to find the location that the call was being made from and to be able to arrive in time.
With most people now depending on cell phones and a growing percentage not even using a landlines at all, emergency response centers have to depend on the accurate location tracking feature of GPS-enabled cell phones. But even though most of the newly released smartphones come with GPS chips already, there are still a lot of people out there with simple call-only phones that can’t be accurately tracked in time in case of an emergency.
In an effort to make it easier for emergency response services to find a caller’s location when they dial 911, the FCC has passed an order that would require all cell phone providers to have at least 85% of their users on a GPS-enabled phone by 2018. This would make it much more effective for emergency responders to get where they need and would also not be much of a strain on phone manufacturers seeing as most phones already come with GPS:
“Because in 2010 almost all 2G and 3G handsets shipped by manufacturers were equipped with GPS-chips, by the end of the eight-year implementation period, network-based carriers will likely have complied with their location accuracy benchmarks by ‘blending in’ such location-capable handsets,” the FCC said in its order. “Therefore, the costs of meeting the handset-based standard within a reasonable sunset period after 8 years should be minimal.”
So there you have it: not only has GPS and location sharing become a crucial and voluntary part of our everyday lives, but the global positioning system will soon be legally required on all cell phones and VoIP services that we use to communicate with each other.