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Our current 911 system is understaffed and outdated. Unfortunately, states have not given their 911 systems the resources and staffing they need to keep up with demand. Also, our current system was built on the reliance of hard-wired/land-line telephones.

In the video below by Jon Oliver of HBO, the failures of our current 911 system are highlighted. (be careful, there’s some rough humor in the video)

The vast majority of 911 calls today come from mobile phones and, despite what we see in movies, dispatchers usually can’t determine your actual location. This inability to locate callers is causing deaths. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has said, “…we estimate that location accuracy improvements…could save approximately 10,210 lives annually…”

10,000 lives a year are lost in the U.S. because of our outdated system.


Shanell Anderson, a 31 year old woman, called 911 and despite her repeatedly giving her accurate location via cross-streets, the 911 system was unable to locate her. It took emergency services 20 minutes to find her. “She died because the system we expect to save our lives failed her,” Oliver said.

According to the National Emergency Number Association, “an estimated 240 million 911 calls are made to 9-1-1 in the U.S. each year” and of those, “70 to 80 percent of 911 calls come from wireless devices.”

How bad is the accuracy? According to USA Today, “your chance of getting a quick fix on a location [for a 911 call] ranges from as low as 10%…” Even when 911 call centers receive location information, it is often to the nearest cell tower. In the video below, an NBC reporter calls a 911 call center from within their own building and asks the dispatcher to tell him his location. The answer? About a “quarter of a mile away” from his actual location.

Sadly, Uber can find you better than an ambulance.


The FCC has mandated that by the year 2021, carriers can transmit your location accurately 80% of the time. That’s still not good enough!

In addition to the difficulties faced with real calls, 911 call centers receive approximately 84 million “butt-dials” a year. (that’s 30% of all calls!) This takes away valuable time and resources from real emergencies and leaves many 911 callers faced with a hold-message because 911 call centers are understaffed.

To make matters worse, 911 call centers, even within the same state, are fragmented and don’t use the same systems/technology.

This point is repeatedly made: the technology exists, but it’s not getting to 911 call centers.


How is Mayday Safety helping?

Mayday Safety is fixing this. By using the Mayday App, users can call for help from their family, friends, those nearby, and if they’re at a Mayday Pro organization’s location, also the staff at that location. This is important because those people can often help well before emergency services can arrive.

However, we’re not stopping there. Mayday Safety is rolling out a feature that can also connect you to a crowd-sourced call center. Your precise location and details are given to the call center and you can be connected to the correct 911 call center with accurate information about who you are and your location.

This will allow the Mayday Safety system help catch “butt-dials” before they burden 911.

Also, the Mayday Safety solution doesn’t require any states or 911 call centers to change/upgrade their technology. Instead, they can receive a call on their current system with the name and location of the caller and then be joined in on the call directly with the caller.