When seconds count during an emergency situation, getting help can often be just a phone call away. But what happens when the person in need, and first responders, are unable to effectively communicate due to a poor wireless signal?
Making sure E911 dispatch centers obtain accurate data when people call 911 from their cell phones takes a lot of effort. However, it’s something VisionOne Communications does well on behalf of many of the nation’s largest wireless carriers.
To address this major safety need, VisionOne turned to MATRIX for its telecom services staffing expertise and fluency in wireless and radio frequency technology that helps connect and relay mobile calls.
Through a comprehensive process known as network assurance drive testing, VisionOne assigns designated territories to engineers staffed by MATRIX based on the location of cellular towers to conduct network testing.
As part of the drive tests, engineers use standard motor vehicles outfitted with special electronic equipment, computers and traditional wireless phones, to place non-emergency calls to E911 dispatch centers.
Drive Tests Measure Wireless Network Reliability
During the drive tests, which involve a series of calls each lasting slightly more than two minutes as the vehicle is stopped, engineers validate that:
The calls route to the correct E911 dispatch center
The E911 dispatch center gets the correct callback number from the handset that placed the call
The center receives the correct cellular tower address that transmitted the call
The E911 center gets the correct latitude/longitude coordinate for the callers
Making sure engineers have the proper background, work ethic and training to perform the field tests led VisionOne to MATRIX for its telecom staffing expertise, said Shane Zimmerman, Supervisor of Network Operations at VisionOne. The relationship has expanded, and now involves E911 certification testing for a major U.S. wireless carrier operating 18,000+ wireless towers in 11 southern states stretching from Texas to North Carolina to Florida.
According to Zimmerman, the current E911 certification testing project involving MATRIX consultants will take 11 to 12 months to complete.
"The impact on enhancing community safety is not only a large job, but a very important one," he added. “If you were in a car accident and didn’t know where you were, but were able to dial 911, the police department would be able to find you with a good signal.”
"Even if a person who dialed 911 couldn’t speak, the call to an E911 dispatch center could still be pinpointed typically within five to 10 meters by first responders based on where someone dialed," said Zimmerman. “If you were hiking in a national forest, couldn’t see a street sign or called 911 from a rural area, your call location could still be mapped. The ability to say you’re helping law enforcement serve those who need assistance is gratifying.”
“They’ve been right on track in selecting candidates. MATRIX has had a good run with their staffing for us, and have put together a lot of good people for our team.”
Shane Zimmerman, Supervisor of Network Operations at VisionOne
Steering Solid Candidates to VisionOne
After each engineer finishes a particular route associated to a carrier market, VisionOne compiles the data to create reports and inserts specialized comments for review by the wireless carrier that takes action where appropriate.
John Manukian, who manages several telecom clients at MATRIX, said the consultants retained by MATRIX to conduct drive tests typically have an electrical engineering degree and are fluent in radio frequency and mobile technology.
Zimmerman, who interviews each consultant recommended by MATRIX before they are hired, said the people recruited and presented to VisionOne have been the right choices for the drive testing projects.
Together, VisionOne and MATRIX look forward to working together to ensure that the public receives prompt and helpful emergency services when time is of the essence.