West’s Safety Services has been chosen to operate and maintain the 911 National Emergency Address Database (NEAD) platform, which will include the location of Wi-Fi access points and Bluetooth beacons that can be used to determine the location of 911 callers, even when calling from a cell phone inside of a building.

Selected by the 911 National Emergency Address Database (NEAD) LLC—an independent entity established by CTIA, the commercial wireless trade association for this purpose—West’s Safety Services is tasked with establishing and maintain the database that expected to include the location of tens of millions of access points and Bluetooth beacons. This information can be leveraged to determine where a 911 caller is located, so the network can deliver a “dispatchable location” information to the public-safety answering point (PSAP) handling the call.

“The [NEAD] database is populated with the information that maps either the MAC or the UID address associated with an access point or a beacon to a specific location—in the case of CTIA, 1400 16th Street, Suite 600,” John Marinho, CTIA’s vice president of technology and cybersecurity, said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “That information is populated inside the database. When a 911 call is placed inside the building, the device will have the ability to scan all of the surrounding access points or Bluetooth beacons, collect that information—typically the MAC address or UID—and transmit that to the network.

“The network then has the ability to query the NEAD database, based upon the MAC address and the user ID that it sees, to then have the database return to the carrier the ability to map that to a specific location—a civic address, plus information about the building, what floor, and so on.”

John Kearney, senior vice president and general manager for West's Safety Services-Mobility, said the company—formerly known as Intrado—is excited to be developing and operating the NEAD.

“West is committed to developing new technologies for carriers that promise improved wireless location accuracy during a 911 emergency,” Kearney said in a prepared statement. “We agree with the FCC that providing a dispatchable address to our public safety partners is the ‘gold standard’ that the industry must pursue. We're passionate about the NEAD project, which we believe will more effectively assist first responders in locating wireless callers.”