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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to enter a contact’s full address?

A full address should always be entered. Accurate data may not be provided if a full address is not used. Simply entering a city name typically selects a point in the geographic center of that city. That point could fall, for example, within a college campus with its own law enforcement agency. In this case, an emergency dispatch agency other than the primary one for the user’s specific address could be displayed and then saved.

The screen in the app from which an emergency call is made displays the address entered at time of creation. Minimizing the call window during the call will display the contact detail screen again with the address. This will assist the user in remembering and communicating the location to the distant emergency operator during what will likely be a traumatic experience. 

Can 911anywhere locate a distant victim if the user does not know their current location? 

No. The 911anywhere app has no ability to locate a distant victim or address. The user must communicate the victim’s specific location to the emergency dispatch operator. 

Where does the data come from?


911anywhere utilizes a proprietary database built using publicly available contact and coverage area data from sources such as Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), agencies’ public records, municipal map data and direct outreach to agencies' leadership.

Instead of subscribing to 911anywhere, could I just look up the local police departments or 911 Centers where each of my contacts live? 

It is certainly possible to look up emergency dispatch agency data for U.S. locations and save their phone numbers. However, even on many agencies' websites, it is not clear which number to call to report an emergency from outside that jurisdiction. 911anywhere has analyzed publicly available information about these agencies from multiple sources and is continually conducting outreach to these agencies to keep the database accurate. If an agency's information is changed in the database, the 911anywhere app instantly updates a saved contact's data in the app when the app is subsequently opened. The 911anywhere app also has the added benefit of creating a contacts list and displaying the victim’s full saved address as the call is being made.

How do I know the call will actually work in an emergency?

An emergency call is made from the user’s phone--just like any other phone call--and not from the app itself. Once the “call emergency dispatch” button is tapped, the user is shown the phone number in a prompt to confirm the call, which is a feature of the phone’s normal calling capability. 

Why is the phone number partially obscured?

After the first contact is created, 911anywhere requires a subscription (currently $4.99/year) to create additional contacts, which is what allows the full number to be displayed and saved. This measure is also intended to deter misuse of the data.

How do I know if I should use 911anywhere or dial 911 in an emergency?

When in doubt, dial 911. If you believe the emergency is in your same local 911 agency's coverage area, dial 911. For all other situations, calling for a saved contact from 911anywhere will likely get help to the victim sooner. Even for close contacts in your local area, it is still recommended to create contacts in the app for them in case you yourself are out of the area when one is experiencing an emergency. When in doubt, dial 911.

Could I just call 911 and report the distant emergency?

Outside of the 911anywhere app, dialing 911 is the most effective way to send help to a distant emergency. However, this is what 911anywhere seeks to improve upon. Dialing 911 connects the caller to their local 911 operator. For a distant emergency, the caller must explain the emergency and provide the operator the distant address. The operator must then open the proper geolocation tool, enter the distant address, determine the appropriate agency and how to contact them. The same location information would again need to be communicated to the distant dispatcher. 911anywhere allows a user to avoid the time spent with their local dispatcher and go right to the dispatcher closest to the actual emergency. This is precious time in an emergency.

Is my contacts' data shared externally? 

No. Contacts and their data are saved locally within the app on the phone. They are not saved or backed up to any external 911anywhere infrastructure. For more information, please refer to the 911anywhere Privacy Statement.

Can 911anywhere sync with my phone’s contacts and import their addresses? 

No. This is intentional. 911anywhere is only as accurate as the saved location data. The app is designed so the user must manually enter contacts’ addresses on an individual basis. This is to ensure those addresses are current. Users must manually update any contact’s address if they move and it is recommended to confirm all contacts’ addresses are still accurate on at least an annual basis.

What if a 911 Center or other emergency dispatch agency changes its status, consolidates or the data otherwise changes? 

The value of the 911anywhere app is that each time it opens, all contacts’ addresses will have been recently re-validated with the databases to ensure relevant data has not changed. If relevant data has changed in the 911anywhere database, it is updated in that contact’s details automatically and the user is notified of the change in a popup notification. This also mitigates the risk of a user saving a contact incorrectly.

What if a database 911anywhere accesses suffers an outage?

Emergency calls for saved contacts will still work as normal. It is extremely unlikely either database will be inaccessible, since both are hosted by an organization with many datasets, many of whose customers are other public safety agencies. However, in the unlikely event, 911anywhere will not be able to search for emergency dispatch data for a new address entered in the search field. It also will not be able to validate whether contacts’ designated emergency dispatch data has changed in the database. However, emergency calls for saved contacts will still work as normal. Contacts’ data is saved local to the phone and will be unaffected. Emergency calls are not dependent on any external connections; only phone reception. 

Have more questions? 


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