Inspired at NENA: Mapping, 911 and the shift to “wireless only”

Out on the NENA exhibitor floor talking to vendors, there’s a lot of discussion about mapping integration with the ALI/ANI database.  While that’s understandable, there’s a tsunami coming that could make the ALI/ANI database almost irrelevant in just 10 short years.

I’m talking about the shift to “wireless only” households.

911 centers are already used to having most of their calls coming from mobile phones (70% is the number I hear a lot.)  What happens when that’s over 90%?

The NIH and CDC have been doing a survey every year for the past 10 years showing that we’ve gone from a country where almost every home (93%) had a landline to one where just under 60% do today.  (Their data is a year behind, so that’s our extrapolation for 2013.)

If you assume the rate of change stays constant, we’ll get to the point that over 90% of homes are wireless-only by 2113.

So do the math.

If about 60% of households generate 30% of 911 calls from their landline number today, what percentage will come when less than 10% of households have landlines?  A highly simplistic extrapolation gets us to less than 5%.  So under these admittedly speculative calculations, we could be at the point that 95% of 911 calls come from cell phones.  (If they are calls at all, and not SMS, etc.)

Wild numbers, but well worth thinking about.

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