Enhanced 911

Definition of Enhanced 911

Enhanced 911 (E911) is an advanced emergency calling system used in North America that automatically provides the caller’s location information to the emergency dispatcher. This system enables quicker identification of the caller’s geographical location, in addition to their phone number. E911 is an improvement over the early Basic 911 system, making it easier and more efficient for emergency services to respond to an incident.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Enhanced 911” is: en-hanst nayn wuhn wuhn

Key Takeaways

  1. Enhanced 911 (E911) provides emergency responders with the caller’s location, allowing for faster response times and improved emergency services.
  2. E911 automatically connects to the nearest Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), which further expedites the process of connecting a caller to emergency responders.
  3. E911 is compatible with traditional landline phones, mobile phones, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, ensuring comprehensive coverage for emergency situations.

Importance of Enhanced 911

Enhanced 911, or E911, is a significant advancement in emergency response systems, as it allows emergency services to automatically receive accurate location information for callers, enabling quicker and more efficient assistance.

This technology is especially critical when a caller is unable to communicate their location, such as during a medical emergency or a criminal threat.

By pinpointing the caller’s geographic coordinates, E911 has saved countless lives and streamlined the overall emergency response process.

Furthermore, it is a vital tool in addressing the growing use of mobile devices, as it ensures that callers can be easily located, regardless of whether they are using a landline or cellular device.

Ultimately, the importance of Enhanced 911 lies in its life-saving capabilities and its significant contribution to public safety.


Enhanced 911, commonly referred to as E911, serves as a vital emergency communication system designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of emergency responses. Its primary purpose is to relay vital information to emergency call centers, also known as Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), which helps in promptly identifying the caller’s location and ensuring swift deployment of emergency services. E911 has become increasingly critical with the rise of mobile device usage, as it allows operators to pinpoint a distressed caller’s location even if they are unable to provide it verbally.

The system automatically transmits a caller’s phone number and geographical information to the PSAP, enhancing the likelihood of a successful and timely intervention. The implementation of E911 encompasses various tools and technologies, including GPS tracking, cell tower triangulation, and IP-based location services. These technologies work together to provide precise location data for each emergency call, which ultimately aids in reducing response times and potentially saving lives.

E911 has been especially valuable for dispatching paramedics, firefighters, and law enforcement officers to remote locations, motor vehicle accidents, and situations where callers might be unable to communicate their locations due to physical or emotional distress. Furthermore, some jurisdictions have incorporated Enhanced 911 capabilities into text messaging and other mobile applications, expanding its effectiveness in reaching out to those who need immediate assistance. Overall, E911 continues to redefine and optimize the manner in which emergency services are requested and dispatched, proving its crucial role in public safety.

Examples of Enhanced 911

Enhanced 911 (E911) is an advanced emergency communication system that automatically provides dispatchers with caller’s location information, thus improving the efficiency and effectiveness of emergency response. Here are three real-world examples of Enhanced 911 technology:

Smartphones and E911: With the widespread adoption of smartphones, Enhanced 911 technology has become more important than ever in ensuring prompt emergency responses. When a call is placed to 911 from a smartphone, the call is automatically routed to the nearest emergency call center. Simultaneously, the phone’s GPS data and cell tower information are transmitted to the dispatcher, enabling them to pinpoint the caller’s location. This feature has saved countless lives by making it easier for emergency services to locate people in need.

VoIP and E911: Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones, which transmit calls over the internet instead of traditional phone lines, have also incorporated Enhanced 911 technology. VoIP providers are required to offer an E911 service that automatically provides dispatchers with the user’s registered address information. Additionally, some VoIP services now use advanced geolocation techniques to determine the caller’s location in real-time.

E911 and Telematics: Some modern vehicles come equipped with telematics devices, which can automatically place a call to 911 in the event of an accident or collision. With the help of Enhanced 911 technology, these devices send the location data of the vehicle to emergency responders, ensuring faster response times and better situational awareness. Manufacturers like General Motors with their OnStar system, Ford’s SYNC and Toyota’s Safety Connect all incorporate E911 support in their telematics systems.

FAQ – Enhanced 911

What is Enhanced 911 (E911)?

Enhanced 911, or E911, is a system that automatically provides emergency dispatchers with a caller’s location information when they dial 911. This technology helps to ensure that the appropriate emergency services can quickly and accurately respond to calls for assistance.

How does Enhanced 911 work?

When a user dials 911, the E911 system helps pinpoint the caller’s location by using the phone’s GPS technology or gathering location data from nearby cell towers. The location information, along with the caller’s phone number, is then automatically sent to the nearest emergency dispatch center to help responders locate the caller more efficiently.

What is the difference between Basic 911 and Enhanced 911?

Basic 911 allows a caller to reach an emergency dispatcher by dialing 911 but does not provide any location information. With Enhanced 911, the caller’s location information is automatically provided when they call 911, enabling the emergency response team to locate the caller more easily and respond more efficiently.

Do all phones support Enhanced 911?

Most modern smartphones and mobile devices support Enhanced 911 services, as they typically possess the necessary GPS technology or cell tower data capabilities to transmit location information. However, older devices or specific models that lack this technology might not support E911 functionalities.

Why is Enhanced 911 important?

Enhanced 911 is crucial because it significantly increases the calling speed and the emergency response team’s ability to locate the caller during an emergency. This increased efficiency can be the difference between life and death in situations where every second counts, such as fires, medical emergencies, or accidents.

Related Technology Terms

  • Location Tracking
  • Automatic Number Identification (ANI)
  • Automatic Location Identification (ALI)
  • Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP)
  • Wireless E911

Sources for More Information


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