Because students' mobile phones are not associated with one fixed location or address like landlines, establishing accurate dispatch locations in university campuses is difficult for 911 call-takers.
Over 240 million calls are made to 911 each year and more than 70% of them originate from mobile phones. Although mobile phones are convenient in an emergency, the problem with calling 911 from a mobile phone is that, unlike landlines, mobile phones are not registered to a fixed address.
When somebody calls 911 from a mobile phone, Enhanced 911 (E911) systems display the mobile caller´s approximate location and phone number to 911 call-takers. However, E911 systems are not good at identifying a caller´s location when a mobile call is made from inside a building - thus making it difficult to establish an accurate dispatch location.
The Issue with Distributed Antenna Systems in University Campuses
Establishing accurate dispatch locations in university campuses is particularly difficult. University campuses typically have a number of multistory buildings clustered closely together and often systems similar to Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) are installed in order to improve cellular connectivity.
E911 systems work in a different way than commercial location-based service applications due to having to work with all mobile devices, not just Wi-Fi enabled smartphones. Therefore, although Distributed Antenna Systems improved cellular connectivity significantly, they also degrade position accuracy - by thousands of yards in some cases.