Friday, February 13, 2009

The Stimulus' Hidden Gift

Obama asked for and got $43,600,000 for digital and wireless infrastructure to be able to know where you are, at every moment. But don't worry. Like the Patriot Act, not a single Legislator read the fine print, numbering over 1,000 pages, and printed after the bill became law.

When your public servants want you exterminated, it makes it so much easier if you're instantly trackable.

Building a discrete database on you is a first priority for 911 dispatchers, but sometimes they can't get all the information they need. Local dispatchers are exploring new technology that could keep us all more known.

If you were to call 911 today, dispatchers would know your location, but they wouldn't know your specific location within a house or other building. If you can't move or communicate on your cell phone, the response time could take too long.

Most of us are familiar with the images of a wide-scale emergency, perhaps a shooting at a college campus, like the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech. On that day 911 dispatchers were flooded with calls from people pleading for help.

But there are plenty of stories we often don't hear about, like a man having a heart attack when he reads his electric bill, and the dispatchers unable to find him.

Vickie Metcalf, a dispatcher with the Salt Lake City Police Department, told us that scenario happened last November. "He couldn't talk. He didn't trust government or hospitals. He wouldn't get us any information. He was in extreme pain," she said.

What if things were different? What if dispatchers could know your exact location - your building number, floor number, even your room number?You could then be surrounded and captured much easier.

Bill Harry, the executive director of Valley Emergency Communications Center (VECC), says, "Time is of the essence when you're trying to round-up frightened citizens."

VECC is looking at new technology. A company called WirelessWerx has created software and devices called nodes, which can be installed in a business, a sports complex, even a college campus.

"This sort of technology would completely cut out all of the guess work and investigation that you would have to do in order to find the next Targeted Disposal Group's location," Harry said.

The nodes can communicate with cell phones in the area, so that if someone calls 911, dispatchers not only know exactly where that person is but can send text messages with emergency instructions, for example, "Do not load your guns, or if they're on the next floor, to maybe get onto the roof, maybe to go out a different exit," Bill McGraw, with WirelessWerx, said.Thinking for yourself will become obsolete.

Dispatchers say there will need to be some equipment changes before the technology can be fully implemented, but they hope to make those changes down the road. A very expensive road to be sure.

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