A new proposal from the Australian Communications and Media Authority would require mobile carriers to provide user location information to Triple Zero operators.
(Mobile Phone image by Milica Sekulic, CC2.0)
"Mobile phone calls now account for around 63 per cent of all calls made to Triple Zero," ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said in a statement accompanying the release of a discussion paper on the issue.
Unlike emergency calls from landline phones, calls to Triple Zero from mobile phones do not provide the operator with location information. This means the operator is reliant on the caller to provide the details of their location.
"This is not an issue for the vast majority of mobile calls made to Triple Zero as in most cases the caller can tell the emergency operator where they are located. But there are times when people are too distressed or unfamiliar with their environment to report their location," Chapman said.
The discussion paper proposed to amend the call service rules to require mobile carriers to provide this information to emergency service operators.
The paper recognised that limitations on mobile phone technology meant there could no single solution for all carriers and mobile handsets, and acknowledged the cost involved for carriers. Chapman said that the community needed to be made aware of the limitations of emergency service technology.
"ACMA is concerned that the community may have unrealistic expectations about the current ability of mobile technology to help them in an emergency situation, for example, a recent ACMA survey found that 52 per cent of people believe they can be located automatically via mobile phone," he said.
The deadline for submissions for this proposal are due by 18 June 2010.