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Anchorage wins grant for locating cellular callers

Posted: Monday, February 24, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Anchorage has won a $500,000 grant to install advanced 911 equipment that will help emergency dispatchers locate callers from cellular telephones.

Deputy Police Chief Mark Mew said the money will purchase and install technology that will plot the longitude and latitude of a cellular telephone signal.

Mew said the technology is not yet proven.

''I don't want anybody to think that once we throw the switch we'll be able to locate every cell phone,'' Mew said.

He said about 40 percent of calls to 911 come from cellular phones. He said the money is the first step toward a system that can locate all cell phone callers accurately, but that more equipment and money may be needed. The upgrade to locate cell phone callers is unrelated to a plan to overhaul the entire 911 system with new computers and updated databases, he said. Voters will vote on a $2.9 million bond to pay for the 911 upgrade April 1.

The Public Safety Foundation of America gets its money from numerous sources, including corporations such as Nextel Communications.

The group distributed $2.4 million to 29 recipients. Anchorage's grant was the largest.



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