A software start-up helps the Federal Communications Commission address a gap in public safety.

If you dial 911 from a landline phone in your home or office, first responders can easily locate you. However, if you call from your cell phone, the 911 technology needs to be enhanced to provide responders with more accurate information.

When the FCC looked at this matter, there was a lack of technological capabilities for indoor cellular location. The Commission required accurate location information only for 911 calls that were made outdoors. However, by 2013 over 50% of all 911 calls were placed indoors on cell phones. Recognizing that there was a problem, the FCC oversaw a working group of government and private sector participants to gauge location accuracy for 911 calls.

A start-up company specializing in high-accuracy indoor and urban location information services vastly outperformed the larger incumbents in this space during the working group testing. This company’s results also yielded accurate data that provided the exact floor of calls made from buildings in dense urban environments. When the FCC initiated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for indoor locations, this start-up saw an opportunity to fill a critical public safety gap and expand its commercial footprint in the process.

PSW was brought in to lead a public affairs campaign to persuade policy makers on Capitol Hill and regulators at the FCC to pursue a strong rule, based on data from the stakeholder working group. Recognizing that our client had a commercial stake in the outcome and that both the incumbent vendors and wireless service providers were in favor of maintaining the status quo, we did considerable spade work on the front end of the campaign to develop meaningful third-party advocates.

We methodically locked down well-known national public safety groups to support a strong rule. We positioned our client as a trusted technology advisor to policy makers, cultivating champions who serve on the Senate Commerce and House Energy and Commerce Committees in the process. We quarterbacked an inside-the-beltway earned media campaign with a focus on FCC stakeholders.

In January of 2015, the FCC voted 5-0 to adopt new rules requiring wireless carriers to provide first responders with more accurate location information for E-911 calls made from cells phones in indoor locations. The FCC action not only provided a successful outcome for our client but also strengthens public safety by improving indoor location accuracy when emergency assistance is needed.



First responders struggled to locate emergency calls coming from cell phones due to outdated technology.


PSW worked with FCC stakeholders to enforce new rules requiring wireless carriers to provide more accurate location information.

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