MONTREAL — Cellphone users will get improved 911 service that will more accurately locate where they are, starting on Monday.
But the enhanced service won’t be to precisely pinpoint a person’s location, said the president of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.
“This is not like in the movies,” Bernard Lord said Wednesday.
Emergency or police services will be able to locate callers better than before using either GPS technology on mobile phones or through the use of cell towers, he said.
“It can be as accurate as within three metres, but in other cases it could be hundreds of metres,” Lord said in an interview.
He says more than half of all 911 calls in Canada are made from cellphones.
The CRTC gave Canada’s wireless carriers until Feb. 1 to provide the improved 911 service after several people who called for help from cellphones died because emergency dispatchers couldn’t find them.
Lord said there are some public safety agencies that aren’t quite ready to be up and running on Monday because they need to do some additional testing, adding there are a few areas in Quebec not yet covered.
“It’s question of time,” he said. “The work is being done. It’s an evolving situation.”
Lord noted that cellphone users must have GPS-enabled cellphones for the technology to work. GPS technology doesn’t work well in buildings, especially basements.
In rural or remote areas, there may only be one cell tower and it would be located by emergency services, not the exact location of a person, Lord said.
“I think it’s important to realize there have been significant improvements but the technology is not in place and does not exist to pinpoint every individual in every case.”
Cellphone users still need to provide as much information to dispatchers as possible, he said.