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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 14, 2006

'E911' system to locate O'ahu cell-phone calls

Associated Press

An enhanced 911 system that allows emergency responders to identify and locate wireless phone callers is scheduled to be launched on O'ahu this week.

The technology can track down the location of a 911 caller to within about 100 yards. Before, only calls from land lines could be traced.

The so-called "e911" system has been used on Maui since the summer. Kaua'i and the Big Island are expected to add the service next year, officials said.

Maui police Lt. Tivoli Faaumu said e911 has already saved the life of a driver whose car fell 30 feet off a road in Ha'iku earlier this year.

A passing motorist who reported the accident couldn't tell the operator where it had happened, Faaumu said. But police were able to send paramedics to the general area where the call originated while they pinpointed the specific site of the wreck.

Faaumu said precious minutes were saved, as was the driver who was pinned under his car.

"We know it helps the public," he said.

Wireless carriers began charging customers a monthly 66 cent fee more than two years ago to fund the program, dubbed "e911." More than $14 million in fees have been collected so far.

Gov. Linda Lingle in July 2004 signed into law a bill prompted by an FCC ruling mandating carriers across the country to upgrade their equipment by the end of 2005.

Gordon Bruce, director of the Honolulu Department of Information Technology, said Mobi PCS is the first provider to have the e911 service.

The others should be integrated by the first quarter of 2007, he said.