Alexandria 911 working with new technology to better locate callers

Have you ever had to call 911 from your cell phone? Well, it’s not always a reliable way to pinpoint your exact location in an emergency. That’s why the City of Alexandria 911 call center is working with new technology called RapidDeploy Radius Plus Mapping – the first in Northern Virginia to use it.

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Doug Campbell, the Deputy Director of Emergency Communications, says this is a gamechanger and will help with the ongoing problem of 911 calls going to the wrong jurisdiction.

"Obviously in this region, we are trying to reduce the amount of misrouted calls. And getting location accuracy is one of the most important things when someone calls because they might not be able to speak or they don’t know where they are. We need to drill down and do a better job of where these people are. The typical, traditional cell phone carrier that provides the information to us now is not 100 percent accurate," said Campbell.

The new, cloud-based technology utilizes data from a caller’s cellphone to determine the location of an emergency more accurately. Dispatchers will see a pin drop within 3 yards of the exact location of the caller.

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With the older technology, the pin would only drop 10 to 500 yards in range.

RapidDeploy will even give first responders the ability to know what floor a person is on in a building. That is something that could make the difference between life and death in emergencies like a fire or active shooter situation.

Callers can even send 911 dispatchers pictures and live stream video from where they are.

However, it will take some time for that to fully roll out as they have to figure out how to make sure dispatchers are prepared to see whatever may pop up on their screen.

Steven Raucher, the co-founder and CEO, says RapidDeploy also allows people to text emergencies.

"The ability to communicate, not just via voice in a situation like that is important to us and given the metropolitan nature of the NCR (National Capital Region) – our system supports, live translation of over 60 languages via SMS so no matter the nationality of the caller or victim – we can find a way to communicate with them effectively," said Raucher.


There is no app people need to download. Everything is done from inside the 911 call center.

RapidDeploy will soon be launching in Montgomery County, Maryland as well. A date hasn’t been released just yet.