Police fire up 911 cell phone locator
Lost? Stranded out at sea? Kidnapped? If you have a cell phone on you, emergency responders can now pinpoint your location.
The Honolulu Police Department showed off yesterday its renovated communications division, outfitted with wide-screen monitors, adjustable ergonomic seating and foot warmers.
But the $1.5 million upgrade is more than just cosmetic. Each workstation has a locator system that can track wireless 911 calls via satellite.
Only two service carriers -- Mobi starting Jan. 11 and T-Mobile starting Wednesday -- are on board so far. But police officials expect all six mobile carriers to work with the system by March.
The tour of the renovations came after Mayor Mufi Hannemann presented a proclamation marking the Honolulu Police Department's 75th anniversary.
The enhanced, or E911, service allows police, fire and ambulance officials to pinpoint a caller's location.
Yesterday, one call came in on Kalanianaole Highway. Dispatchers were able to pinpoint where the call originated and track the call down the street as it moved.
"If this was a kidnapping situation, this would be a great way to track them," said Gordon Bruce, director of the city Department of Information Technology.
Other possible scenarios include being lost in the mountains or at sea, or officers needing immediate assistance during a chase.
Last year, the Police Department received 73 percent of the 87,417 calls received by 911, according to police statistics.
Police Chief Boisse Correa said future enhancements are in store, including being able to determine elevation levels and locating emergency personnel who are not using cell phones.
The first 911 telephone network was not in place in Hawaii until 1975. With the E911 network, the Police Department has access to the global positioning data of each cell phone company.
When a call comes in, the data stream for the positioning goes directly to the Police Department. If a satellite system is not available, dispatchers will be able to triangulate the signal, using towers to pinpoint its origin, the city's Bruce said.