Why 9-1-1 was unable to locate the President of Cora

 
The 9-1-1 service may have been failing when the president of the Cora restaurant chain, Nicholas Tsouflidis, called him to say he had just been kidnapped. But even if the call lasted more than 20 minutes, it is not necessarily easy to track and locate a cell phone in the area where the sequestration took place.

 

FROM ONE POLICE DEPARTMENT  TO ANOTHER

 

While he was confined in the boot of a blue sedan, possibly branded Volvo, Nicholas Tsouflidis called 9-1-1. The appeal was automatically transferred to the Mirabel police service, where the abduction took place. But for some unexplained reason, the call was subsequently transmitted to another police force in the region, according to one source. This confusion, which would have contributed to delaying research, could be explained by the fact that Mirabel  has its own  9-1-1 call center,  but that certain sectors located  to  the  northwest are adjacent to the  MRC    d' Argenteuil , Which also manages its own power plant. "In the northern region, there are several areas of entanglement.  It is not impossible that the telephone has changed territory during the   call.

 

 

POOR GPS TRACKING IN RURAL AREAS

As with most calls made to Canada with a mobile phone,  9-1-1  respondents  were  able  to  know  the  approximate position of Mr. Tsouflidis by triangulating  the  position of his  telephone  with  cellular  antennas.  However,  the precision is much lower in rural areas, such as the one where the kidnapping took place, since antennas  are  less numerous. "The realistic goal in rural areas is to have 500 meters of precision," says Bill Elliott, a telephone security specialist with the National Emergency  Numbers  Association. However, larger differences are not  uncommon. "In  more than 20% of rural calls,  the  uncertainty or vagueness  transmitted  to  the  emergency  center  exceeds  1000 meters," wrote coroner Gilles Saindon, In a report published  in  2013  after  the  death  of  a  man  in  Petton,  in  the Eastern Townships. In this case, the vagueness of the  9-1-1 triangulation  was more than 5 kilo meters.

 

 

EVEN WORSE IN THE TRUNK OF A CAR

 

 

The fact that Mr. Tsouflidis was in the trunk of a sedan may have played an aggravating  role  that  significantly undermined the positioning accuracy, Bill Elliott believes. "The triangulation mechanism works by  calculating  the distance at which the  device  is located  from  the  antennas  by  counting  microseconds.  If there  is a  metal  structure that  bounces  radio waves,  it can  have a very  important  impact,  "he says.

 

CARS IN MOTION

 

In addition to the poor  precision  of  triangulation  positioning,  the  rescue services  had  to  contend  with  the  fact that the kidnappers' car was probably in motion. Since the 9-1-1  triangulation  system  only  allows  the  position  to  be  updated approximately once per minute, it  is impossible  to  use  it to  track  a  move . As a  result , the  police  had to scour a territory of about 20 square kilometers, bounded by Highway  440  to  the  north,  Highway 13 to  the  east,  Samson Boulevard to the south and Main Street to the west. "Activating  the  tracking  system  can  drain  the  phone battery from the person in distress. It can be an extra  problem  when you're looking for someone," says one source .

 

 

40 YEAR OLD TECHNOLOGY

 

The Canadian  Radio-television  and  Telecommunications Commission  (CRTC)  is currently  exploring  the  possibility  of upgrading the technology used by  the  country's  9-1-1  stations.  "It's  a  system  that  was  created  more  than  40 years ago, at a time when fixed phones were the norm," said Bill Elliott . The new technology, called NG911 (Next Generation 911) , would allow mobile phones to send a much more precise position to the stations, using, among other  things,  the  GPS  chip  of  each  device. "There  is no technological  limitation that  prevents a  better location system. It is really a matter of public policy and  money.  Changing  the system would cost several million dollars,  "says Elliott.

 

 

REQUEST FOR RANSOM TO FAMILY

 

According to our sources, it was to Mr. Tsouflidis'  family and  not the CEO of the Cora  restaurants himself  that  his captors asked for a ransom, which would explain the  confusion about the  motive of the  crime that existed  during  the 24 Hours following the abduction. The amount of the ransom requested was not known, but it would not have been  paid. The  police have every reason  to  believe that the victim  was indeed  kidnapped  and that the  kidnappers were at least two. It also appears that Mr. Tsouflidis did not remain in the car  during the eight  hours of his confinement. He was found about 16 kilometers from his home, which is relatively close . We do not know if he kept his cell phone until he was found.

 

Originally published in La Press

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