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VoIP Apps and Emergency Services – Are They the Perfect Combination?

Rafael Torreblanca
October 3, 2019

In a life or death situation, every second counts. Emergency services know this struggle all too well. Callers aren’t always clear at communicating their location and the current methods for tracking people aren’t always reliable.

Locating callers in distress is no easy task, but new technologies like feature-rich VoIP apps are looking to change that.

While VoIP apps were criticized in the past for being unreliable—that isn’t the case today. Smartphones have made VoIP one of the best solutions for tracking people during emergencies.

How Do Emergency Services Track People Right Now?

Emergency services rely on being able to find someone as quickly as possible. But the traditional method for locating callers is often unreliable.

Calls from landlines will deliver specific information like an address, name, and a callback number. However, most people today don’t have landlines.

The majority of calls come from cell phones. But cell phones can only provide a location within a 150-meter radius. This poses a major problem for callers located in a dense urban setting. You cannot reasonably locate someone in an area where more than 50 houses could exist, especially if the caller is unable to provide identifying details.

911 dispatchers only have one solution in situations like these. They can connect with the caller’s wireless carrier to try and locate someone. Still, this isn’t always accurate either as an individual’s location data comes from a cell tower.

All of this relies on an individual having a strong signal that the tower can ping—and even then, the data received may be inaccurate.

Situations like this happen every day, and they often cost human lives. These deaths are completely avoidable and could be prevented by something as simple as a VoIP app that uses location services. 

VoIP Apps and Location Services Are the Answer

Many people today value their privacy. Encryption is more important than ever with large companies so willing to take risks with our sensitive data.

This alone has turned many people off from the benefits of location services. They see a tool like this as a threat to their privacy.

And who can blame them? Large corporations have used location services as a marketing tool to collect and sell data.

But for emergency services, location services can make all the difference. VoIP technology combined with smartphone capabilities can greatly improve how emergency services locate and respond to calls.

A VoIP app can automatically provide a caller’s location using a smartphone’s GPS chipset. This provides an emergency service with the exact Google coordinates of your location.

How accurate is this data?

A location provided by a VoIP app in conjunction with your GPS chipset is accurate to within two meters. You can’t even compare that level of accuracy with any of the other methods that emergency services currently rely on.

Location reporting is configurable, meaning you can make it mandatory or optional for your app.

Why Didn’t VoIP Apps Catch on Sooner?

VoIP technology was ahead of its time when it first released. Early networks lacked the reliable connection required to make VoIP accessible. Another problem was the fact that early cell phones lacked GPS chipsets.

Location reporting didn’t become streamlined until GPS chipsets became the norm. Early VoIP apps often masked a user’s location too, making it nearly impossible to locate them.

These problems have since been solved with modern smartphones and the rollout of LTE and 5G networks.

Smartphones are more powerful today, they have powerful GPS chipsets, and our modern networks are more reliable than ever. LTE network coverage is accessible throughout most of North America and Europe, and 5G is already being deployed in select major cities throughout these regions.

VoIP apps also include many innovative features that didn’t exist before. Something as basic as location reporting didn’t catch on until GPS technology improved. And for this reason, emergency services avoided VoIP apps because they were seen as unreliable.

But that’s all changing now.

It’s only a matter of time before VoIP apps become the standard for emergency services because of the accuracy they can provide over traditional tracking methods.

What If Your VoIP App Fails or Cannot Connect?

There’s nothing stopping an emergency service provider from using traditional GSM location technology should a VoIP app fail.

Emergency services can still locate your cell phone using traditional methods, including your GSM location and cell phone towers.

But the added benefits that a VoIP app provide are undeniable. They can greatly improve the efficiency of emergency services by providing them with ultra-accurate locations.

This can mean the difference between life or death during an emergency.

Cloud Softphone – Build Your VoIP App Today

Cloud Softphone makes it easy for emergency services to create a VoIP app that is reliable and feature-rich.

Any real-time communication app created through our portal is capable of calling 9-1-1, providing detailed location reporting, and can derisk emergency situations.

While most callers will provide their location and address, this isn’t always the case in an emergency. A 150 meter radius is too large during a stressful emergency. This level of inaccuracy costs human lives every day.

Emergency services need better methods for collecting this data. VoIP apps that are paired with location reporting technology are one of the most reliable solutions on the market. This technology empowers emergency services to respond to calls quicker by providing them with hyper-accurate location data. You never have to guess where an emergency is when you can locate it within two meters.

Are you interested in building your own feature-rich VoIP app? Get in touch with the Cloud Softphone team today to learn more.


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