AT&T launches new feature to improve response to wireless 911 calls

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) — AT&T is rolling out an upgrade across Louisiana this week that will make it easier for emergency services to find and dispatch help to wireless 9-1-1 callers.

“It’s a life-saving measure and it’s something that will definitely keep our loved ones, family members, and even us alive depending on the situation,” said Ravin Godwin, an AT&T representative.

The new Locate Ahead of Route feature uses GPS instead of cell towers to give a more accurate location to people calling 9-1-1 from a mobile device. The technology helps narrow a wireless caller’s location from several miles down to around 55 meters.

With a better location, public safety can respond more quickly.

“We all have family and loved ones who may have called 911 before and some of us have had loved ones who sadly passed away and it may have only been a few seconds, or a few moments, or minutes that if someone had gotten to them moments earlier, they would have lived,” Godwin said.

In East Baton Rouge Parish, EMS currently uses a third-party provider that helps them locate the location of an emergency call.

Jim Verlander of the EBR communications district said they would have to purchase new equipment to make their system compatible with AT&T’s upgrade, but he predicts they won’t have to.

He said EMS will undergo a massive overhaul of its phone system by the end of the year, which will eventually give them the same resource that AT&T offers.

“This phone system will have this GPS location and these other functions that I’m talking about all built into this 911 call and this 911 phone system,” Verlander said.

He said what AT&T and other departments across the country are doing is part of their commitment to making sure everyone gets the help they need.

“It will save lives. I know it will save lives,” Verlander said.

AT&T originally launched the service in May, but they expect it to be available to customers nationwide by the end of June.

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