Retailers and the Government Can Find You Wherever You Are
It's only a matter of time, though it's not really the feds we have to worry aboutTechnology that can dispatch an ambulance to within 50 meters of the wireless phone from which a 911 call was made has commercial enterprises quivering with anticipation and privacy advocates quaking in their boots. In theory, on Oct. 1, wireless operators will begin the slow rollout of network- and handset-based Automatic Location Identification services under Phase II of the Federal Communications Commissions wireless Enhanced 911 rules. If you call for help on an ALI-capable wireless phone, the new technology should be able to find your location, just as wireline E911 systems can determine where a call came from, even if no one on the other end of the line speaks.
The goal, of course, is to improve emergency response to the estimated 140,000 wireless 911 calls made in the U.S. each day. But it will be a good day in Seattle when instead of firing up MapQuest.com on the Palm VII, asking for Starbucks and being presented with a dozen locations within a certain radius, you can ask for the same information on your wireless phone and be given the location of the nearest Starbucks, precise directions to it and a coupon.