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Ultra Local Phone Numbers

Location dependent dialing
  [vote for,

In the US and many other countries, there is the concept of your “local dialing area” within which you can call cheaply or free, and “long distance” for which you have to pay premium prices. This two-tier system was designed in the days when phones were fixtures, tied to particular locations. This is no longer true, phones roam about with us. And yet we still use this system.

It would be convenient to have a adjunct set of phone numbers that takes our constant mobility into account. A third tier of phone numbers that were location-dependent would be a good step. You might think of them as “macros” that get you to the particular phone number associated with your current location.

For example, you’re in a shopping mall parking deck, and you see someone trying to break into a car. There are no call boxes provided, and you want to quickly call the correct number to report this, before it's too late. Sure, you could call 911 (aka 999 in UK) and have them put you on hold. Or dial the three-digit “ultra local” number that automatically routes you to the mall security office, who can deal with this situation much more quickly and more efficiently.

Other numbers that would be useful in this system:

· The manager’s office for this business
· The regional office for this business chain (complaints, kudos)
· The information desk of a mall, campus or theme park
· The first aid office for a mall, campus or theme park
· The nearest restaurant or take-away place of type X
· The nearest post office

The idea is these numbers would be the same everywhere in a country, but would be routed based on your current location. They might be three or four digits long, or start with * or something. The exact details would depend on how they could be wedged into the existing local dialing plan.

As for implementation, the US is currently rolling out an “Enhanced 911” system to locate cell phone callers that could be used to provide this. Alternately, super-small cells or even Bluetooth could communicate with phones over short distances to provide this location-dependent service.

“Honey, do something!”
“Hello, this is the Bijou Cineplex”
“Hi, I’m seated in Theater 4, and the film just stopped suddenly in the middle”
“Oh, so sorry, sir! I’ll go remedy that.”
“Thank you.” (click)
“Here, have some popcorn sweetie.”

krelnik, Nov 20 2003

Bell Labs to Detail Selective Tracking http://www.newsday....l=ny-business-print
Jan 20 2004: Bell Labs claims they've got the privacy issues licked. [krelnik, Oct 05 2004]


       Hmm.. sounds good in principal, although you'd have a hell of a headache with all the privacy laws as this relies on Big Brother detecting where you are all the time.
sporn, Nov 21 2003

       Interesting. With a little thought that could be integrated into the other menus on the phone such that most users would not realize they were actually using a web page.
krelnik, Nov 21 2003

       I would as my phone is crap and my supposedly permanent connection still requires a little "connecting" icon to flash for about 20s before the connection is established.   

       Nice idea though. I'd imagine there would be a profitable auction for the available numbers - which would have to be short - e.g. 3 digits - and so would be limited. One could imagine the international confederation of emergency ballet-wear suppliers wanting the rights to 222 for example.
dobtabulous, Nov 21 2003

       I like this idea.   

       I'm not what gprs is, but from quick research, it's doesn't seem to involve GPS. So, the main problem seems to be how to get the phone to know where local is.   

       A phone can know your general location, the nearest cell tower, right. What's that--a mile radius? Too far. So you really need gps in your phone which can communicate your location to a central server.   

       This doesn't have to be government sponsored like 911/999, it can be privately sponsored by individual phone companies, which is already done. I can call a certain 3 digit number on my cell phone and it dials the local radio station.   

       By the way [krel] what are you doing with your phone on (and talking into it!) during a movie? Shame on you.
grip, Nov 21 2003

       No, the movie stopped, hence the phone call. Heh.
krelnik, Nov 21 2003


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