Feeds

back to article Race to pinpoint VoIP callers in emergencies

Phone companies are developing a system to allow 999 operators to pinpoint the location of internet callers, amid concerns that the increasing use of VoIP could mean police, paramedics and fire crews are unable to attend emergencies promptly. It is hoped that the technology could be in place in some ISPs next year, according to …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Very odd

Why dont they assign an id to a voip account.

So that when u sign in and make a call it shows your id like caller display.

And becasue teh account is tied to an address..

Unless they went to there local cyber cafe and logged into to make a 999 call??? lol

0
0

What about...

the situation where the caller is using VoIP on a cable broadband only connection? There isn't going to be a phone number associated with that is there?

0
0

@Steves 63 and 29

/me thinks they have missed the point.

@Steve 63

A lot of voip accounts are identifiable as to the user, however, that user might be logged into the system from work OR home (or somewhere else entirely) there you have to track down the location of the IP the call originated from.

@Steve 29

They need to track the network connection of origin not a landline telephone number so your argument just doesnt apply

0
0
Go

Time for an A-GPS roll-out over here in the UK as well?

Bearing in mind that the Americans developed A-GPS technology to assist in locating mobile phones (with and without GPS tech on the phone, it triangulates to a fair degree rough non-gps based locations as well), and since that tech is relatively well-proven and available 'over the counter' so to speak, and also given that since the UKs "3" Mobile network provider have advertised unlimited SKYPE VoIP on their network, it seems to me that in the future, a significant amount of VoIP may well be on the mobile phone networks. Might it not therefore be a good idea to invest in A-GPS tech over here as well? May it not even save a life or two in the long run?

Just my five penne'worth ;)

"Go", because I think it's a reaonable step forward.

0
0
Gold badge
Black Helicopters

Location, location, location.

All purely altruistic of course. There could be absolutely no other reasons why anyone would want to implement a system that can return an exact geographic location for a given IP in milliseconds now, would there?

0
0
Thumb Down

don't mention function creep...

...and everything will be OK(honest)!

0
0
Flame

It's not 911's problem

If people are so wrapped up in technology that they don't keep a regular land line or mobile that can be traced should the emergency services really be wasting their time saving these people?

0
0

Vonage?

I use Vonage as my "landline" and they allow you to register the address against which 999 calls are assigned.

For 90% of instances I can envisage, this addresses the problem.

0
0

@fifi

But for the other 10%, for instance where someone moves house and doesn't update their details (you know, like the one explained ITFA) then... well, just then.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

A good idea ...

... useful. I see the point.

Unfortunately we all know that over the coming years, 99% of it's use will be to toss adverts at us.

0
0

Re: @Steves 63 and 29

While yes, the principal is fine that with cable you can still get an address, the article describes getting "a line identity number, which would allow a reverse directory lookup to retrieve the address of the caller" - if it's cable, there is no line identity number, so you'd have to have some way of getting the address directly, which isn't mentioned / described...

0
0
Black Helicopters

Hmm

Am I the only one that doesn't particularly want the police to be able to trace my IP address to my physical location?

Not posting as AC as I follow the I've-got-nothing-to-hide-I-just-think-reasonable-privacy-is-important-especially-from-the-government philosophy.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

999 - red herring

BT VOIP want as much association with the old 999 system as possible to drive up costs of all. This is also evident in EU Telecoms package.

I think BT should focus on deliever a fully transparent data transport layer ensuring it can support a multi-media communication service, not engineer a best effort broadband service so the PSTN remains in place indefinately.

Then we re-invent an emergency service for the 21st century, not attempt to emulate what's there.

Register addresses yes, but the number itself should not be the defining factor.

0
0
Stop

VPN, TOR etc

Though unlikely I know, how will this work with someone using a VPN or TOR client that routes all their traffic through somewhere else, so the IP Address presented to remote point is not that where the connection originates. In an emergency it is not likely you are going to think, before I make the call I need to disconnect the VPN/TOR session. With TOR couldn't this end up with the address popping up as being the other end of the country, if indeed the same country.

Or think company has 2 sites that have WAN between them and the internet, or VOIP, gateway, and so registered physical address for the IP address, is on the other site to the emergency. If they only have an IP phone system and can't make a landline call ?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

why?

why not require that they just take reasonable precautions to make sure the address data you gave them is up to date?

ie. you have subaccounts for "home" and "work", then if your "home" account suddenly tries to connect from a different ISP (or in the case of ISPs with regional IP blocks, a different region on the same ISP as well), ask for confirmation of their address. I know this won't catch all cases of someone moving house but i imagine a lot of people moving house would also either change either ISP or regional IP block - and it would be almost certain to pick up you using it in a second location (unless that happens to be your mates house on the same ISP down the road of course)

if they really wanted to know where you were then i have a solution: ask, sure there are some cases where people are unable to answer and *then* you fall back to using the address they provided with the account, but "omg my baby is dying", "what's your address?" "not telling you", well then it's hardly bloody surprising when the baby dies

also worth noting that the report linked to says they were talking for 35 seconds before getting cut off, no doubt the real reason they never asked for the address is that the first 30 seconds are taken up with bureaucratic bullshit "this is the emergency call centre operator john smith located in toronto taking an emergency call from 555 1234 123 at 10:37:43am, be aware that all calls are recorded for training and quality assurance purposes, please state the nature of the emergency" (well when i last called 999 i got a good 45 seconds worth of that spew before they bothered to ask me what i was calling for... apparently lives are less important than bureaucratic procedure)

0
0
Silver badge

Canada Red Herring

The Case in Canada, the phone company sent the emergency services to the original registered address but had only updated the billing address when they moved. That it was a VIP call is irrelevent, if it had been a landline or IP over homing pigeon, the same thing would happen.

The phone companies are using it as an excuse to try and ban VOIP or regulate to the extent that it costs more than their overpriced services.

Of course my phone company's own landline phone is also VOIP over cable but that's different!

0
0

moving?

@Greem

It's pretty hard to do that... the 999 address is in a very prominent location when you log into the management console, and can be changed whenever you want. Unless you Never check your bill, never login to change your voicemail settings, or never log in to enable or disable other features.

0
0
Silver badge

@TeeCee re. Location, location, location

You are being cynical and have a lack of faith in government. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. If you have nothing to hide them you have nothing to fear. This information will only be available to emergency services and relevant government and local authority departments. They know what's best for you and they WILL know where you live.

0
0
Flame

Multi-site WAN's etc

I work for an ISP and we sell voip, usually to customers who have multiple sites. We send out documents for users which advises that you MUST tell operators your current location etc.

Fire... well, you know why.

0
0
Gold badge

If you are lucky to get emergency services, just tell them

Well when I dial 999 from my phone, I get nothing. If I call 112, I get the emergency services in Spain. Ofcom says that they don't want me to be able to call a "geographic number", because my service provider will route the 112 call; which they do... to Spain (It's the obvious thing to do, since my IP address is also registered in Spain you see).

I can this this working really well. They will dispatch the emergency services to where the IP address is registered. See lots of ambulances at the Linx, docklands, or to the address where all the Vodaphone IP addresses connect to the hardlines...

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Simple

Why don't they just use your voice signature to look up your facial proportions in the database, then broadcast a request to the network of intelligent surveillance cameras asking them if you're in sight? If you're not on camera at the time, they can use your recorded movements from the last few hours to generate a probability density map and search for you in the most efficient pattern possible. Combine that with a statistical analysis of your habits over the last year or so (do you turn right or left more often when either will do, for example) and they can pinpoint you even faster.

0
0
Linux

Proxys...

What about just using a high speed VPN or proxy over Skype?

But also the police/999 are useless to trace calls etc.

I contacted then to report some harrasing calls i received. And they told me they didn't have the equipment to trace the call. And I had to spell my own address to them.

0
0
Thumb Down

It'll be twitter next

Surely people can tell the difference between a real phone and a for-entertainment-only internet thingy.

Next think you know people will be twittering: @999 lost legz in crusha help help

and expecting the ambulance to turn up.

0
0
Coat

VOIP vs Land Lines

NB This is a long post - but Quite Interesting.

BT provides a service called EISEC [Enhanced Information Service for Emergency Calls]

BT has enhanced the service it offers the Emergency Authorities (EA) [Police; Fire; Ambulance; Mountain Rescue, Cave Rescue, or Coast Guard services] by enabling the network to

allow electronic transfer of the callers Calling Line ID (CLI) to the EA, and to allow the EA access to an EISEC-DB in order to directly collect address information relevant to the point of call origin.

The BT SIN 278 covers this service in full detail - it's well written and interesting too!

http://www.btwebworld.com/sinet/278v1p6.pdf

EISEC is a brilliant service that delivers the actual location of the caller (not the billing address, but the physical address of the line) to the Emergency Authority. The latest EA Control Rooms can automatically tie the postcode of this address from the EISEC database to their command and control databases and mapping systems and can hence log and identify the location of the incident and the nearest resource for deployment.

[Don't knock it, your life might depend on it one day!]

The local fire services are up in arms about Regional Fire Controls and argue about the removal of local knowledge but EISEC will perform the location identity stuff; it's not going to take away the need for fire appliances to rush to the scene, but the technology will automate the call handling front end of the service.

Mobiles have Zone information passed on but this is only covers a fairly broad geographical area.

VOIP was recognised as an issue some years back [well before I retired three years ago] and they wanted to do something before the genie got right out of the bottle!

Clearly they're trying to do something to fix what is now a major problem [they're not interested about where you are all the time] - "The EA will ... only be able to access name and address data for customers who have made a recent 999/112 call. Following a 999/112 call the customer data will be held on the EISEC Client machines for a period of approximately thirty

minutes, during which it will be available for access by the EA" - so it really is a time limited 999 service address access function.

VOIP is location independent so there's no EISEC database for you - and the best way to fix this would be to have a GPS module in your VOIP handset that transmits your position at the front of the 999 call. Or you have to enter your location postcode as part of your VOIP logon - don't be tempted to put your Exeter postcode in because you're too lazy to find out what the postcode is when you're in Leeds.

Under Airwave, most of the EA vehicles now have GPS modules that transmit both on radio messages and when travelling [the mapping systems show vehicles moving across the maps in real time - that's how they identify the nearest available resource]

EISEC -great for PSTN; so-so for mobiles [that'll probably be fixed (and also be great) when mobiles have GPS modules - I know some do already].

VOIP - all 999 calls go to operators spread around the country so you can tell them your location - but you'd better hope you're not in Ashley; there are 9 in the road atlas I have, and two of those are in Hants, so you'll have to be very precise with your location details. [I didn't bother to go through the rest of the atlas, 9 Ashleys made my point]

That's why they want to automate it. Any bright sparks got a good, cost-effective method for automating your physical location related to your VOIP connection (other than my twopenn'orth above) ?

I'm as concerned as the rest of you regarding the surveillance state, but EISEC is an outstanding good use of technology in my view.

I'm done here. I'll get my jacket - it's the one with the worn brown leather patches on the elbows

0
0
Anonymous Coward

999 and twitter

@rich 3

999- Twitter - my kitten is stuck up a tree.

LOL - but think of all the consultancy you would get from .. my kitten is stuck up a tree,.. help, help, ..you would have a crowd around that tree in no time. The kitten would still be up the tree but you would feel better, and lots of people could watch video clips of kitten stuck up a tree, might even identify a hero with a ladder , and not waste the Fire services time.

The 999 system is much more robust that the human resources answering the calls, all 18 UK centres I think, all with different processes and headcount challenges.

Seriously.. that for entertainment -only thingy is designed that way to ensure we keep paying for the PSTN. 21CN is designed to save operational costs, not to deliver better broadband experiences. Broadband is best effort because it is designed that way so we keep paying for Mobile and fixed subscriptions.

These personnal beacon locators are getting very cheap and the spectrum is available, for two way radio comms. Re-invention is possible, not replication.

0
0
Flame

Can people with no idea what they are talking about...

please shut up.

I was going to pint out faults with anout 90% of these comments, but I can't be arsed wasting my time, I know people like to comment on things they have no clue about.

Currently redirecting an entire branches calls over "for-entertainment-only internet thingy." as the site system has died. That'll be 10 minutes downtime instead of a day or two using "real" phones.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

999 for the future

If we understood the notion of connectivity, then fire alarms should call the fire service directly, a bit like some of the entrance alarms.

Most vunerable folk are carrying pendants. It is a shame these are tied to the fixed line, much more utility if a mobile or radio based.

Having BT in charge of this only means one thing, a continued reliance on PSTN indefinately, rather than a plan to actively replace it with a mulit-media communications service.

It is a good example where innovation is prevented by an overtight regulation around a legacy service.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

@ 999 for the future...

"If we understood the notion of connectivity, then fire alarms should call the fire service directly, a bit like some of the entrance alarms"

Sigh.....

I guess the entrance alarms connect using magic pixie dust.......

Whooosh thats the sound of a PSTN line whizzing past you.

PS Nice post Derek, at least one person actually understands the issue here.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

BT redcare internet connected alarm service/trial

@999 for the future

BT RED care were testing an internet connected alarm service. It permitted someone not at home remote access to see via web can what was going on and re-set alarm and speak with alarm company before calling out EA.

No one questioning the great PSTN engineering, just a combination of higher bandwidth, clever use of alerting and mobile technologies cold create effective substitutes.

The inadequacy of EA is forcing more self help for fallers, where pendants (pstn or mobile) are triggering alarms not to EA but to nearest and dearest.

The WSD project would switch from PSTN if Broadband was more than best effort.

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.