Vic 000 operator slams telcos over mobile location delays

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Vic 000 operator slams telcos over mobile location delays

Telstra says capability should be ready in weeks.

Victoria’s central triple zero operator has criticised the country’s telcos for not moving fast enough to deliver critical location information about emergencies phoned in from a mobile device.

In its annual report, tabled yesterday, the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) vented its frustration about the delayed roll out of mobile origin location information (MoLI) services by the telcos, a project being led by Telstra.

“When a triple zero call is made on a fixed line, ESTA automatically receives the telephone service address which, in the majority of cases, is the address where emergency services are needed.

“When a triple zero call is made from a mobile phone the actual location of the caller is not provided.”

- ESTA 2013-14 annual report

Asking the caller about their location nearly doubles the average time taken before an operator can dispatch a vehicle to the event, the ESTA report stated.

The authority complained that the shortcoming was "in a large part because much needed and available location technology has not been prioritised by Australia’s mobile carriers”.

“Telstra has continued to lead a national program to introduce a broad ‘push MOLI’ capability but the delivery timeframe for this initiative has moved from an initial implementation date of 2012 to a most recent planned date of November 2014.”

Telstra, however, told iTnews it expects to have MoLI capability up and running ahead of the revised schedule.

“The mobile industry has worked closely with the relevant government agencies to deploy an upgrade to Triple Zero to make it easier for emergency service organisations to identify the location of someone calling from a mobile phone, using a capability known as push MoLI," a spokeswoman for the telco said.

“We expect this to be in place in the coming weeks."

She said it was the intention of industry to "investigate options for further enhancements including GPS once push MoLI has been introduced”.

Such ongoing enhancements have been another item on the ESTA wishlist.

While the authority has welcomed any improvements on the current state of play, it is not fully satisfied with the extent of what Telstra and the other telcos plan to put in place this year.

ESTA’s head of corporate affairs, Rosie Mullaly, told iTnews that the information to be provided narrows down the location of a call to a polygonal space between its nearest mobile base towers.

“If you think about how many people in the CBD of Sydney or Melbourne would fit into this space, it could be thousands,” she said.

“We know the technology is out there that will allow locations to be pinpointed. Ideally we would like to get to the end state as soon as possible.”

She said it was important for the public to realise that the job is not yet fully complete, so citizens do not overestimate how precisely emergency services are able to locate them from a mobile 000 call.

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