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Verizon won't install technology in Colorado to pinpoint 911 calls from cell phones

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When a business owner and beloved member of Denver’s East Colfax neighborhood was shot outside her apartment on July 15, four calls to 911 (including the first) were sent to Aurora’s emergency operations center. It’s been a long time. career.

Technology exists to more accurately route 911 calls from mobile phones to the correct 911 communication center, but Verizon, one of the three major carriers in the US, has refused to install it in Denver or elsewhere in the country. doing.

T-Mobile and AT&T introduced the technology in Denver earlier this year, said Andrew Dameron, the city’s director of 911 services.

But Verizon declined, even after city officials asked the company to do so.

“Their response was that they weren’t doing basically what AT&T and T-Mobile were doing, and that the onus was on states and 911 officials to come up with solutions to use the technology. It was thinking,” said Dameron.

Dameron provided the Denver Post with a copy of the response received from Verizon. In it, a representative of the company wrote: A government initiative to incorporate location-based routing capabilities into the Next Generation 911 (NG911) network of 911 centers. “

Verizon did not respond to two email queries from The Post.

McCain’s son, Cho Woo, addresses police officials at a meeting at Denver’s Hidden Brook Apartments on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. In the wake of Cain’s shooting death outside his apartment complex on July 15th, he should take immediate action.

‘No immediate effect’

Kyaw Oo, whose mother Ma Kaing was killed on July 15, said he and his sister had Verizon mobile phones. Hidden at 1313 Xenia Street, near the Denver-Aurora border, his sister was the first to die after a bullet randomly fired from a nearby park hit his mother while she was outside her Brooke’s apartment. I called 911 for her.

The call was routed to Aurora and took 3 minutes and 50 seconds before being forwarded to Denver’s 911 operator, according to accounts provided by the two city’s public safety departments.

Daryl Branson, 911 program manager for the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, said the inability of cell phone users to consistently connect to the correct 911 call center is a nationwide problem. Federal and state governments can fix it, but it will take time and money, he said.

Wireless carriers that want to upgrade their technology can do so at a much faster pace, he said.

“There’s no quick fix for this,” Branson said. “If there was, we would have already done it.”

For years, 911 calls from mobile phones were routed to emergency communications centers based on the cell tower closest to the caller. So if a person was standing near the border between Aurora and Denver, they could call the city where the tower was, not the city line where the caller was standing.

That’s the routing technology Verizon still uses, Dameron says.

The technique of more accurately determining where a mobile phone user is standing when dialing 911 is called geospatial routing or location-based routing. This new technology, which has been around since around 2018, uses GPS information and other data to better pinpoint a caller’s location.

“For a very long time, location information didn’t exist in a form that was accurate enough for call routing,” says Branson. “The first he needed for routing didn’t get it in 2-3 seconds.”

In May, AT&T became the first national carrier to commit to deploying the technology nationwide. Colorado was one of the first states to implement it, Dameron said. Colorado and others went online that month in 15 states.

In 2019, T-Mobile announced it would create location-based routing at the request of the city. Dameron said Denver requested it in March and is currently testing it.

In July, the Federal Communications Commission announced it was considering location-based routing as a move that would require carriers nationwide to update their systems for 911 calls. The FCC has been talking about the move since 2018, so it could be years before any regulation is adopted, according to an FCC notice seeking public comment.

Statewide, the task force is considering legislation to submit to Congress to redirect state 911 surcharges to projects that could build location-based routing throughout Colorado, Branson said. This project is necessary even if carriers voluntarily implement location-based routing statewide. This is to assist his 911 office in other emergencies, such as backing each other up if one agency’s systems crash, he said.

Building that system statewide would require hiring an outside company to create a statewide dataset compiled from all of Colorado’s 911 systems, Dameron said.

“Building that dataset for the state is a big deal,” he said.

But the 911 directors want it. They say they need to keep up with rapidly evolving mobile phone technology and make communities safer.

Tanisha Lintz shares memories of horses...
Tanisha Lintz shares memories of McCain with other residents at the Hidden Brook Apartments in Denver Wednesday, July 27, 2022. Kane was shot dead in an apartment complex on July 15th. No one has arrested her.

“911, you guys need to step up”

Meanwhile, residents along the Aurora-Denver border, divided by Yosemite Avenue, want a change in their neighborhood.

After years of increasing violence, residents say they have sought help from police, emergency services and other city officials. Tensions boiled over at a neighborhood rally Wednesday as many of the residents, who cried when they spoke about Cain’s death, complained of the slow 911 response and constant firing into the night.

Denver police, fire and EMS take too long to respond to calls from neighbors all the time, not just the night Kaing died, they said.

“We have to call 911. “We need help here,” said Taneysha Linz, a Hidden Brook apartment resident.

On the night Kaing was murdered, she and her children stayed up late at Taw Win, a recently opened restaurant, baking desserts for catering orders. They were dropping dessert buns into the apartment when someone started firing guns at New Her Freedom Park in the corner of Hiddenbrook’s apartment.

Oo and his family say it took 15 minutes for EMS to arrive to help Kaing.

However, Denver officials indicated that an ambulance arrived on the scene at 11:35 p.m. Friday, five minutes and 17 seconds after the city received the first 911 call at 11:29 p.m. provided a timeline for Only on his first 911 call was he fired in the area at 11:29 pm, 17 seconds ago.

According to the city’s timeline, the first police officers arrived on the scene 5 minutes and 16 seconds after the initial call.

The Post Office has filed an open record request for 911 voice recordings, but the city has yet to provide them.

Cell phone calls along the border can lead to the wrong 911 call center, so Denver and Aurora have intercoms to use to communicate when trying to transfer calls. An Aurora operator patched it up in Denver and called for an ambulance before Kaing’s daughter was transferred to the Denver operator, Dameron said. It happened within the first minute, he said.

Kyaw Oo, the oldest survivor of Ma Kaing...
Kyo Woo, center, sits at a community meeting at the Hidden Brook Apartments in Denver, Wednesday, July 27, 2022. Following the murder of Oo’s mother Ma Kaing, who was shot outside an apartment complex on July 15.

Denver has the same setup as other bordering cities and counties.

“For this situation, we have it ready,” he said.

It’s unclear if a different call-routing system would have made a difference for Kaing. And her son wonders if it will make a difference in the future.

“I can’t say anything about my neighbors, but if someone asks for help and doesn’t get enough response time, I don’t think there’s much use in using a different cell phone service.” says Oo.

Dameron said he understands the frustration. He will attend his second community meeting this week to answer residents’ questions about what happened.

“When you dial 911, don’t listen to them say you need to transfer to someone else,” he said. “It shouldn’t be. It’s precisely for this reason that we as industry, state government and federal government need to keep moving towards new and better technologies.”