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Tech Answers the Call of Duty

School of Applied Technology

For information technology and management program undergrads Bart Dworak, Javier Moreno Valdecantos, and Cruz Tovar, their class project took them beyond cool research—and closer to a solution to a serious, real-life challenge.

New FCC rules will require public-safety call centers to more accurately identify the location of 911 callers who place wireless calls indoors. Currently, 911 location technologies are ineffective at identifying indoor wireless calls. This presents challenges for emergency responders, especially in multi-story buildings, and the need for precision is only increasing as more and more households give up landlines and go wireless only.

Using a sophisticated combination of application development, a unique location server, and the Real-Time Communication Lab’s NG9-1-1 test bed at Illinois Tech, the students developed an Android app to help 911 operators obtain the floors and room numbers of indoor emergency callers.

Based on the SIPdroid User Agent open software project, the app observed a 911 call being made and sent the address of the phone to the location server, which in turn queried the management system to learn the closest access points to the caller. The location server ran an algorithm to determine the nearest access point and translated that point into a floor and room number, and encoded both into an XML format specified in the NENA i3 standard. Finally, the location server handed the XML-formatted information back to the app, which in turn created a SIP INVITE including the location information in its MIME-formatted body and forwarded the INVITE to the Session Border Controller that stands at the edge of the lab’s ESINet. The ESINet forwarded the SIP call to the NG9-1-1 PSAP at its far end.

The students demonstrated the system in a single building on Mies Campus last spring, then over the entire campus last summer.