TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Cell Phone Calls to 911

Re: Cell Phone Calls to 911
26 Apr 2007 10:11:20 -0700

On Apr 25, 3:07 pm, (Carl Moore (ARL/SLAD/BND/GSB)

> News item today on KYW news-radio is about effort to get Bucks County
> (Pennsylvania) 911 system enhanced to pinpoint calls from cell phones.

Would you have a specific URL or date for this story? I tried
searching for this story but couldn't find anything.

Who would pay for the system? The regular taxpayer or another tax on
telephone services?

I found this but it isn't about Bucks County, PA:

With plain 911, that doesn't give an address or town, they had a
similar problem. The telephone central offices do not at all
correspond with either municipal boundaries, commonly used names, or
postal zones. Further, some public safety services are merged and
handle more than one muncipality.

Some new people to the suburbs let their houses burn down because they
did not know what township they lived in since the township name might
not be in common usage. They presumed they lived in what everyone
called their town in everyday conversation.

For example, near me is the "Jones Township". It is served by three
different telephone COs, none of which are named Jones, two different
post offices (not named Jones), one regional school district (not
named Jones). The library is county. Indeed, unless a resident wants
to join the township swimming pool, they would normally have no
contact with the township at all.

However, in my opinion such expensive computerization is no substitute
for having well trained dispatchers knowing the geography, indeed,
that is critical in a public safety function. Some roads do run for
very long distances, but most do not, and the dispatcher looking at a
map (computerized index) should have an immediate feel for the target

Of course, sensible naming of streets wouldn't hurt either. In the
above, there are several "Jones Roads" that connect to other towns and
could be confusing. Road names should not be duplicated if they are
close to each other, and intersections should have clear street signs
for both streets, something often not done to save money or maintain

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: One way I could tell this in the past
> was that Chicago's street signs are different than the suburbs, and
> its overhead street lights are different.

This is true, but most people don't notice things like street signs or
street lights. Indeed, while street signs might be uniform within a
particular municipality, street lights vary greatly. In my town we
have old incandescent, white mercury vapor, and yellow sodium, on a
variety of poles and fixtures. (Our street signs are white on black,
next town is white on green, next town is blue on white).

In Philadelphia, most street lights are mounted on wood telephone poles*.
Free standing ones since the 1950s were a swan type shape, but more
recent installations are a variety of designs.

(*Wood telephone poles seemed to have kept the same design since the

The zig zag municipal boundaries possible came out of the original
split off of city/town vs. rural. Some farmers may have wanted in,
others wanted out, and the boundaries were drawn to accomodate them.
These decisions could've been made 200+ years ago. I think way back
then only landowners could hold political office (thus the term

> I do not know how cell phones and calls to the police are handled in
> those places.

A friend of mine had an auto accident on a tiny bridge over a creek
that was a municipal boundary. The two police departments arrived and
spent an hour arguing about which one was responsible to write up the

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: The reason why the northwest side of
Chicago is so ragged is due to the way it was first parceled out,
mainly after World War 2. A lot of it back then was 'unicorporated'
meaning part of no city or town at all ... There are two very small
villages on the northwest side of Chicago which are _completely
surrounded_ on all four sides by City of Chicago (Norridge and Harwood
Heights) They sit there and do their own thing, despite pressure from
City of Chicago now and then to try and 'standardize' their procedures
and policies (in other words, join the City of Chicago). They are both
part of 'Norwood Park Township, and after Norridge ends, and a small
finger of Chicago protrudes, then follows an area called
'Unicorporated Norwood Park Township' which abuts the town of Des
Plaines, Illinois on one side and City of Chicago on the other side.

Literally, a block here, a half block there makes the difference if it
is in the City of Chicago, the City of Des Plaines, the village of
Norridge, or Unincorporated Township. To make matters worse, all the
house numbers along there are numbered 'Chicago-style', meaning about
82-84 blocks (west of Chicago's State Street dividing line, '8200
West'); including the houses in Norridge, the 'independent
village'. That is why John Wayne Gacy (serial killer in the 1970's)
went so long unabated. His neighbors frequently called _Chicago
Police_ (their default 911 connection) to report their suspicions, but
'8215 West Summerdale Avenue' was an unincorporated area. Mr. Gacy,
the local high-politician, was finally arrested by police from the
town of Des Plaines, IL in the midst of another investigation (which
turned out to be part of the (heretofore uninvestigated) disappearance
of more than thirty young men who were buried in his basement. Mr.
Gacy was finally, mercifully, put to sleep in a humane way (I think
they gassed him when his appeals ran out) about twenty years later in
the middle 1990's. Some authority (municipal?) finally tore down the
house where he had been living after Gacy's place had become a hangout
for vandals, teenage freaks, Satan worshippers, and other malevolent
types. A new house was built there later on, thoughtfully numbered
'8217' or something other than Gacy's former street number (8215)
which bore much baggage with it. It is all still Unincorporated
Norwood Park Township however. And would you believe police came out
and dug up the yard at the new house also a few years later? It
appears in his death row cell someone planted a bug in police's ear
that they had 'missed a few bodies' in their earlier digging, so
police were inspired to go out and dig for those bodies also. PAT]

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