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Science and Technology

After Kyle Plush Tragedy, A Look At How Cell Phone Locator Tech Can Improve

kyle plush
Courtesy of Plush Family
Kyle Plush

The story of Seven Hills student Kyle Plush demonstrates calling 911 on a cell phone still has its problems. But one Greater Cincinnati technology expert says there are things you can do to help yourself.  He says GPS systems will soon be able to pinpoint a device with extreme accuracy.

Dave Hatter knows the limits. He's called 911 on his cell phone and even though he lives in Ft. Wright, sometimes the call goes to Cincinnati and sometimes it goes to Campbell County. He says it has to be redirected and that wastes time.

"Right now when you dial 911 you're going to get the closest cell and that is typically how they're trying to locate you. Hopefully in the future the capability would exist on the phone to tap into the other location information and send that," says Hatter.

He says there are things you can do to help with location, such as turning on the GPS and downloading emergency apps. "Hopefully next year there are some new chips coming out that will take the accuracy down to potentially one foot or less and that's only going to be in the newest cell phones," Hatter says.

There's always a trade-off because that's not going to sit well with the conspiratorial privacy person, said Hatter.

The Samsung Galaxy has a feature called SOS that allows the user to send an emergency alert to four pre-selected contacts by pressing the power button three times in a row. When triggered, an emergency message with your location, a picture of your situation and an audio message is sent automatically.

Even cell phones that don't have GPS can use cell tower position and distance to calculate your location. Location services use a combination of other services to pinpoint the user's exact location including cellular data, cell tower location information, and sometimes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.

Another idea is a cell site simulator like the one Tempe, Arizona police are using to track the cell phones of criminals. It tricks a user's phone to connect to it instead of the normal cellular network.