OnQ Blog

Qualcomm Location Suite ups support for emergency services

Jul 27, 2021

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.


When fire rages in a crowded neighborhood or an elderly person falls in their apartment, lives depend on the speed at which first responders can arrive at the scene. Firefighters, paramedics, and police all rely on location technology that can help quickly identify the accurate position of people who call emergency numbers for help, especially when individuals are unable to convey their location. The Qualcomm Location Suite — deeply integrated with our Snapdragon Mobile Platforms and Snapdragon Modem-RF Systems that power many millions of mobile devices in the U.S — has supported emergency location services in the U.S. and globally for two decades.

To comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) E-911 regulations, Qualcomm Technologies has enhanced the capabilities of the Qualcomm Location Suite to provide improved horizontal and vertical positioning information. For example, the upgrade will help first responders to better determine the floor within a multi-story building from which an emergency call was placed. Being able to locate where an emergency is occurring with a high degree of accuracy is likely to be a gamechanger for emergency service providers and for people who call 911.

E-911 regulations date back to the 1990s when the FCC adopted rules requiring mobile service providers to automatically provide public safety personnel with the location of people who dial 911 (the U.S. emergency phone number). Thanks to industry-leading technology developed by Qualcomm Technologies — assisted by third-party providers who specialize in vertical positioning — mobile service providers will be able to comply with new E-911 regulations requiring that the horizontal and vertical position of each wireless caller be determined with a certain level of precision.

The Qualcomm Location Suite: Trailblazing global solutions

Qualcomm Technologies is the number one location technology company worldwide,* with more than 10 billion devices shipped to date using our positioning solutions. The Qualcomm Location Suite is synonymous with superior location and navigation with a highly integrated solution, including device chipset, software, cloud services, and support for operators.

When it comes to tracing the location of a device, a blend of approaches tends to work better than just one at a time. The Qualcomm Location Suite uses GNSS (global navigation satellite systems) with network-based positioning and dead reckoning (a process that uses sensors to determine a change of position from a prior known location) to deliver accurate location with superior speed and efficiency.

Emergency service professionals benefit from this robust, combined approach, a mix of GNSS assistance delivered over cellular or Wi-Fi, LTE, and 5G-NR terrestrial positioning as well as a cellular/Wi-Fi-based location. When an emergency call comes in, operators rely on a combination of triangulation of wireless signals and device positioning technologies, such as GPS, to provide the position of the caller. The use of technologies in the Qualcomm Location Suite is designed to result in highly accurate positioning information and the ability to share this reliable information with first responders, allowing them to reach the precise emergency site more quickly.

Seamless industry integration and quick deployment

Implementing E-911 requirements in mobile devices all over the country is a major engineering undertaking and one that Qualcomm Technologies is poised to successfully support. Technologies need to be integrated with hundreds of millions of devices made by dozens of manufacturers, for multiple operators, and across smartphones, feature phones, and other voice-capable devices, including various mobile hotspots and customer-premise equipment.

As the world’s leading wireless innovator with more than two decades advancing mobile location technology, Qualcomm has the technical experience and record of innovation to bring enhanced location capabilities to first responders around the nation. We are working with mobile operators, component manufacturers, and third-party providers of vertical-axis positioning solutions to support the FCC regulations in a manner that is frictionless for the industry and seamless for users.

Equipment manufacturers benefit greatly from Qualcomm Technologies’ support to comply with E-911 regulations. Our assistance and expertise allow them to commercialize smartphones and other mobile devices easily, quickly, and cost-effectively in the U.S. — another advantage for device makers using Snapdragon Mobile Platforms and Modem-RF Systems. Timely and smooth delivery of enhanced technology demonstrates yet again how our innovations in connectivity continue to benefit the greater good.

* Source: QY Research, Ranking of Global Top GNSS Chip Manufacturers by Revenue, April 2020.

Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

Jean-Michel Rousseau

Sr. Director, Product Management at Qualcomm

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