The Flip Side of 911 Call in Kenya

Living in the past or living in the future. Those aren’t real. The moment is now, where comfort, all the good stuff and above all, where safety is of great emphasis. But just exactly how does 9-1-1 works?

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When you call 911, your network service provider company recognizes the number and routes the call to a dedicated 911 switch that sent the call to designated public safety answering point (PSAP). Incoming 911 calls are typically answered at PSAP of the government agency that has jurisdiction over the caller location and these calls are always answered by a specially trained person known as telecommunicator.

Location is an important concept in the way that the Enhanced 911 system works. Location determination depend upon the automatic location information database which is maintained on behalf of the local government by contracted private third parties generally the incumbent local exchange carrier. The question is, what type of 911 systems does the Kenya government use?

When a landline call arrives at the PSAP, special computer software uses telephone number to retrieve and display the location of the caller in near real-time upon arrival of the call. But for mobile phone is whole different story.

For wireless 911 calls— billing in Kenya is used by buying credit card. With cell phone is difficult to locate where they are at the moment when 911 calls is made since they are portable. This means that locating the caller is more complicated and there is different set of legal requirements.

However, to locate a mobile telephone geographically, there are two general methods. One is to use some form of radio location from the cellular network and the other is to use a global positioning system receiver built in the phone itself. The flip side of that is, not every Kenyan owns a smart phone and those who have smart phone, have one slogan, ”Always protect your identity.”

My concerns

  1. What type of 911 systems is Kenya government using?
  2. Are the 911 systems a responsibility of national government or county government?
  3. Currently, are 911 systems in use able to serve all Kenyans?

  4. If a Kenyan citizen calls for help and is unable to give the location where he/she is, how long will it take for them to be located?
  5. How many landlines are in use today?

Conclusion

Communication authority should come with a master plan to ensure that 911 systems are efficient to server more than 40 million Kenyans. Here is what I believe should be done:

  1. Basic 911 — all 911 calls must be relayed to a call centre regardless of whether the mobile user is a customer of the network being used.
  2. Wireless network operators like Safaricom must be able to identify the phone number and cell phone tower used by callers within five minutes of request by PSAP.

  3. Network operators should be enhanced 911 compliant by a given date issued by Communications Authority Of Kenya.
  4. Wireless networks should be able to provide the latitude and longitude of the caller within the radius 150metres in order to save lives.
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