AT&T launches location-based routing for emergency calls

Emergency SOS on iPhone
Emergency SOS on iPhone (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • AT&T has announced location-based routing for 9-1-1 calls in the United States.
  • Emergency calls were previously routed based on the location of cell towers.
  • Calls can now be routed using the GPS on the device that is making the 9-1-1 call.

AT&T has announced that it has become the first carrier in the United States to introduce location-based routing for emergency calls placed with a cell phone.

In a press release, the new "Locate Before Route" feature will now use device GPS information to more accurately route a 9-1-1 call to the correct call center. AT&T says that the new feature will be able to locate where an emergency call came from within fifty meters, a huge improvement over the previous system which used the closest cellular tower.

With location-based routing, a device can be located and routed within 50 meters of the device location. Prior to this launch, wireless 9-1-1 calls were routed based on the location of cell towers, which can cover up to a 10-mile radius. This can cause delays in emergency response, especially when a call is made within PSAP border areas where state, county or city boundaries overlap.

Nationwide Location Based Routing

Nationwide Location Based Routing (Image credit: AT&T)

The feature is already available in the following states and territories:

  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Wyoming
  • Kansas
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • North Dakota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • South Dakota
  • Guam

Chris Sambar, executive vice president at AT&T, called the new feature an "industry-leading public safety solution."

"Providing our customers with reliable connectivity and high-quality service on America's largest wireless network is what we strive for everyday at AT&T. Launching this industry-leading public safety solution allows us to ultimately help improve the connections and efficiency for our wireless customers by offering more accurate service when making emergency calls."

The company says that the rollout will be nationwide and complete by the end of June.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.