When NBC News reporter Jeff Rossen wanted to test just how accurate 911's location tracking technology is for cellphones, he called from right inside the 911 operation center. The dispatcher was about a quarter mile off.
"Oh, that is not good," Last Week Tonight host John Oliver said on Sunday. "You never want to be in a situation where you have to tell someone 'I'm actually inside you right now.'"
But this is a serious issue. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), improving the location accuracy of 911 could save more than 10,000 lives each year.
As Oliver explained, the location tracking technology exists. Facebook and other apps on your cellphone can pinpoint your location down to the building that you're in. But 911 tech is really far behind in many places across the US: Even after a new mandate by the FCC, operators will be unable to track about one in five callers.
This is just one of the many problems with 911 services, which remain inadequately funded and staffed in many places across the country. (One way you can check this, highlighted by Oliver: Google "understaffed 911 dispatch" and your town's name. You'll likely see a lot of headlines about it.) What's worse, states enable this problem — by, for instance, using funds that are supposed to go to 911 for other budgetary purposes.
Given all these problems, Oliver argued it's time to stop taking 911 for granted. So he created a 911 PSA for kids that's … well, much more honest than the commercials you were probably exposed to as a kid. (At one point, the 911 dispatcher tells a crowd of kids, "Oh, yeah? We'll see how hard you're laughing when I'm listening to someone's ass and you're all burning to death in your beds.") Make sure to watch it above.