For state and local governments across the country, 911 operating centers are adopting a new technology to improve responsiveness. The program, Smart911, gives citizens the ability to better connect with 911 by providing them data that can help in the event of an emergency. Launched almost two years ago by Rave Mobile Safety, Smart911 has been adopted by the state of Arkansas and the District of Columbia, as well as almost 300 counties throughout twenty-four other states nationwide.
Todd Piett, the Chief Product Officer at Rave Mobile Safety, spoke with Chris Dorobek of the DorobekINSIDERto discuss state and local adoption of Smart911, the challenges of implementation, and the amazing success stories shared by 911 operating centers that have successfully integrated the program into their workflow.
One of the largest concerns with most adopters has been, first and foremost, how information is collected and secured. Piett notes that providing data is completely optional, and each user who creates a profile is able to choose the level of detail they offer. Additionally, highly confidential information such as social security numbers are not requested, making their data centers less of a target for hackers. That being said, Piett notes that it is their business to make sure the data provided by users is completely private.
While state and local government budgets are shrinking, Piett details the funding streams on which they operate: “911 is actually funded primarily through surcharges that show up every month on your phone bill. It varies a little state by state, but essentially nationwide there is an average of 74 cents per month on every phone that you own is collected to fund 911 services.” They are not primarily operating on funds that would be allocated to other public services, such as the police and fire departments.
The Smart911 program has been well received by operators, and has demonstrated success both analytically and anecdotally. In situations where callers are unable to communicate – whether it’s a language barrier, breathing impairment, heart attack, or other condition – having this information can be the difference between life and death. Typically, a police officer is dispatched when the caller does not provide specific information regarding the emergency, but by providing relevant medical information beforehand, EMS units can be sent in these situations.
Initially, there were some concerns that too much information was being provided for operators to process. Piett acknowledges that this can be a real concern for call centers. Through the experience they have gained over the past two years though, he’s seen that if the data is well integrated into workflows, it is incredibly effective. The data “You’ve got to find a way to merge that [data] and integrate it into a visual story for that tele-communicator answering the call, versus making it a whole bunch of individual data points.”
For more information about Smart911, or to listen to Todd Piett’s full interview, you can catch the entire radio show at GovLoop Insights.
Now here’s a particular case where I’d prefer that this service be owned and operated by the government. Besides, just because my SS# isn’t requested doesn’t mean that their data center isn’t a hacking target. That’s why they call it identity theft. Great concept, though!