911 centers struggle to find callers on cellphones, and results can be deadly

Commercial apps, such as Facebook and Uber, can pinpoint your exact location using your smartphone’s built-in GPS. But that’s not necessarily the case when you call 911.

That’s because most 911 centers determine a mobile caller’s location based on technology that was adopted two decades ago — before cellphones were equipped with GPS. So, instead of obtaining location information directly from the phone, the 911 center estimates the caller’s location based on which cell tower is in use.

The problem is, the tower your phone pings may be miles away, or even in another jurisdiction.

Such was the case back in 2014, when newspaper delivery woman Shanell Anderson called 911 after accidentally driving her SUV into a pond.

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