Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Going Wireless at Home

Recent figures show that 20% of households in the US have gone wireless-only for their voice communications. It's a trend with no signs of slowing, but it has created a new set of consequences. One of the more serious side effects has been what happens to 911 calls. And even more of a problem, Reverse-911 calls.

Locally, 3 cities have asked the local wire and wireless carriers to expand the Reverse-911 capabilities to include wireless phones. Presumably, the carriers can activate an outgoing call to each customer within a area defined by specific cell sites, or potentially, those customers whose phones return GPS location data within the affected area. However, the infrastructure, logistics and paperwork are a good distance away from making that goal possible.

Even our current system is still far from achieving the alert level that public officials wish they had. My home number was "ported" from another part of town and, yes, I get the occasional call about a lost child or Alzheimer's patient in my old neighborhood, almost an hour away. It makes me wonder what I'm missing closer to home. I'm guessing it's the same thing my wireless- (or VOIP-) only neighbors are missing. Do you care?

The best early-alert system I ever had is when my Aunt Ruth would call all her family and friends to alert them to the perils she had just heard about on TV. Now there's an alert system that spread the word faster than a cold through kindergarten.

No comments: