New 911 Technology Debate: Should We Risk Lives For Technology?

The FCC and other government agencies are frequently faced with the dilemma of technology’s double-edged sword. In the most extreme cases, the double-edged sword can harm the safety and lives of a country’s citizens. However, what is the government to do when technology can potentially help save lives but can also diminish the growth and use of several other technologies? 

The FCC is faced with this exact question now while dealing with a new 911 technology. This technology, produced by NextNav, can help accurately pinpoint 911 callers. The use of mobile devices rather than landlines has made it much harder for dispatchers to find emergency callers. According to NextNav, GPS signals can accurately and quickly find callers when they are outside. However, when a caller is inside a building, it becomes much harder to do so. On the surface, the new technology seems beneficial and a literal lifesaver. However, the frequencies used for this technology are the same as wireless Internet Service Providers, toll-readers, baby monitors and a long list of other services. It is no surprise that companies such as Google are protesting the approval of this technology. The approval of this technology could create major technological and operational setbacks for huge companies as well as the citizens of the area.

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One of the lead oppositions to Progeny is Part 15 of the FCC, which “regulates the operation of low powered devices that monitor safety of gas and oil pipelines, hearing aids, Plantronics headsets, and emergency response devices made by Inovonics.” In addition to the disruption of these products, the test runs of the technology showed slower Internet and download speeds, which would affect the masses. 

With over 60 companies in opposition to the Progeny Waiver, the question must be asked, how much is a human life really worth? Is it worth possibly interrupting the service that consumers as well as companies have become so accustomed to for the past 20 years? Although NextNav has ran several tests, the tests have come back with far from perfect accuracy. The FCC is faced with an extremely difficult problem. Technology is growing so rapidly that it is almost impossible to predict what will be introduced next and how it could potentially affect the lives of so many. However, it is easy to see that in the near future, we will continue to be faced with the question of, how far are we willing to go for new technology?

 

For more information about the logistics of the new technology, check out the article: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/03/911-tech-pinpoints-people-in-buildings-but-could-disrupt-wireless-isps/. 

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2 thoughts on “New 911 Technology Debate: Should We Risk Lives For Technology?

  1. I definitely support this technology. I think that it should be implemented because it could help save people’s lives or keep them out of danger. Although the Internet service may be affected, I foresee that technology will keep advancing and eventually this problem will be resolved. It is difficult for people to adjust to change, especially when the Internet is such an important tool used in daily life now. However, I believe there is greater value on human life and technology should be used to help preserve lives in any way possible.

  2. Additional data could certainly help the FCC with this decision. Does the improvement NextNav technology offer significantly benefit the safety of 911 callers, and does this benefit outweigh the technology’s shortcomings? The FCC should also consider alternative solutions that may be in development.

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