Police, fire brigade and ambulance services will be able to access location data about emergency callers using mobile phones as a result of new rules made by the communications regulator.
The new rules require mobile carriers to provide emergency service organisations with the most precise mobile phone location information available for emergency calls made from mobile phones – but only in situations where a Triple Zero caller is unable to verbally report their location.
Emergency services had wanted instant access to a mobile phone caller’s location automatically. But phone companies said this could result in a delay in callers being collected. The the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) decided that as less than one per cent of callers are unaware of their location, the move was not necessary.
Emergency services must now go through a process of requesting location data from a mobile phone company in the case of a caller not knowing their whereabouts.
Acting ACMA chairman Richard Bean said emergency services will be able to locate callers quickly and with confidence where necessary.
“The ACMA’s new rules enable emergency service organisations to access the most precise location information that is currently available on the mobile networks and also to automatically capture the benefits from any future developments in location-based services offered by the mobile carriers,’ he said.
The new rules, known as the Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Amendment Determination 2011 (No. 1), will come into effect from April.
Mobile phone carriers will be required to ensure a dedicated process for location queries, resolve such queries with the highest priority, and assist emergency services find the relevant mobile network if the call was made on a different network.
Mobile phones now account for around 63 per cent of calls made to Triple Zero.
The ACMA said it is continuing to explore with industry and emergency services organisations the potential automatic provision of enhanced mobile location with every emergency call.