The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association says auto-dial options for 911 are unsafe and illegal in some provinces.“There is no reason why anyone should pre-program 911 into their phone,” says spokesman Marc Choma.He says parents should teach their children to dial 911, not assign it to a speed dial function on their home or cell phone.“If it’s speed dial number one at home, it’s not going to be speed dial number one at Grandma’s,” he explains.Long distance charges — Carmi Levy, a technology analyst from London, Ont., warns against slipping an unlocked phone into your pocket or purse.You could be accidentally dialing Auntie Mildred down in California and racking up expensive long distance minutes.She launched the study after finding the volume of emergency calls was up 120,000 in 2010 over 2009.So far, there have been no instances of real emergencies being neglected because call-takers were busy trying to find out if a butt dial is legitimate, but the phenomenon is taking up time and resources.Which begs the question: Where are people leaving their cell phones during close encounters? He would have picked up my call if he did, or at least called me back later.
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“It sounds like the mall, maybe it’s just street noise,” says Judy Broomfield, 911 coordinator for the Toronto Police. An “unscientific” study found police were receiving an average of 300 “pocket dials” (also known as “butt dials”) every day.
Emergency call-takers are picking up the phone to hear dance clubs, construction sites or a baby gurgling. That’s 10 per cent of the total volume of calls to 911, says Broomfield.
defines the butt dial as: “When your cell phone accidentally calls someone you did not mean to while on your person.”Technology analyst Carmi Levy says the phenomenon is just unnecessary.“Imagine all the resources being consumed by this,” he says from his office in London, Ont.
“It’s a big issue and like most problems related to technology it’s one of behaviour more than anything else.”He says it’s quite simple to avoid: Lock your keypad or screen before putting your phone in your pocket, purse or holster.