How does 911 know the addresses of its callers?


Quick Answer

Subscribers to landline phone service or voice-over-Internet protocol provide their services with home addresses, which are transmitted automatically to 911 operators, reports the New York Times. Cellphone calls to 911 generally transmit the cellphone tower address first, as of 2015.

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Full Answer

When a cellphone user calls 911, it may take up to 25 seconds before the operator receives additional information about the caller's location in the form of latitude and longitude coordinates, notes the New York Times. The Federal Communications Commission requires accuracy of the location data to within 50 to 300 meters, according to the agency. A review of 911 calls from 2010 to 2014 reveals that 911 centers in metropolitan areas such as Washington, D.C.; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Denver, received from 10 to 63 percent of calls without location information or with inaccurate coordinates, reports USA Today.

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