E911 getting a little “Smarter”?

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This blog is also available as an Audio File on the Avaya Podcast Network


Next month 911 will turn 45 years old in the US, and like many of us is getting a little wiser with age. Most people assume that the 911 system is a large intelligent network of information that knows everything about everyone. However, as the old saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out”. So, when you’re sitting in your cubicle on the 27th floor of a large office building, and you make a 911 call, but can’t speak, you can certainly expect a large gathering of emergency service personnel on the street directly in front of your building, but if you expect them to rush to your cubicle, in many cases, that’s just not going to happen because they either do not have the data, or the data they have is meaningless to them.

Typically if you call from your home you can expect a much more accurate response, mainly because there is typically a single building at a particular address, and searching a few thousand square feet is easily accomplished. But all of this just gets the first responders to the location of where they’re needed. Providing emergency health data can give 911 and first responders the tools they need to better protect you and your family.

This sounds like a great idea, however there is no mechanism in place within the 911 network, to collect store and distribute this type of information. This is whereSmart911(TM) comes into play with a service that is completely free to its subscribers. This relatively new emergency service is used in PSAPs in more than 26 states and offers you the ability to create a profile for your family that displays key details to emergency responders in the case of an emergency. When you have a profile with Smart911(TM) , the information you entered shows up in front of the call taker answering your 911 call, providing them with important information about individuals associated with a particular telephone number.

I first saw Smart911 at the APCO show in Philadelphia, two years ago, and seeing the huge value, immediately became a Smart911(TM)subscriber. The information I provided in my profile is stored safely and securely in the Smart911 private network, and includes details about my residence, the floorplan, medical conditions for all my family members, as well as medication information and doctors telephone numbers. I even include emergency contact numbers for additional relatives, as well as pictures of my daughter that could be immediately used in the case of a kidnapping for example.

In my profile, I have information about my pets and their veterinarian contact information. If there were a fire at my house, and no one was home, at least that information would be provided to public safety where they could make arrangements in the event one of my additional “family members” needed medical assistance.

When you dial 911 today, there are 240 characters available in a database record that is displayed to the dispatcher. Most of that information is taken up with important data like the street name, the house number, directional indicators such as North, South, East and West.

There simply isn’t any room to store any pertinent additional data. Next generation 911 services will solve part of this problem by including references to additional data. Although that’s coming very quickly, what I take advantage of collecting that data today and getting it into a format that can be used for next generation 911. And if you happen to live in an area that serviced by Smart911(TM), you can take advantage of that right now. If your local PSAP doesn’t subscribe to Smart911 services, there is still value in entering your information. In addition to my home telephone numbers, I have all of the mobile numbers used by my family in my Smart911 profile. That way when I’m traveling to an area like Washington DC for example, that is a Smart911(TM) subscriber, and I were to dial 911 from my cell phone, they too would see my personal profile.

If you want more information on this free service for citizens, you can visit them on the web at www.smart911.com where you can set up your free public safety profile, and enter your ZIP Code to see if smart 911 is active in your area, and you can also follow them on Twitter @smart911.

Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

Read my other AVAYA CONNECTED Blogs

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he provides the strategic roadmap and direction of Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, and co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the EU, where he provides insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

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