In 2015, Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, made an incredibly insightful statement. “Uber can find you, but 911 can’t.” Now, using the same global positioning technology as companies such as Uber and Lyft, first responders can locate those who need their help in a time of emergency.
A Ride to the Airport, but Not to the Hospital?
The problem with today’s 911 service is that it relies heavily on land lines to isolate the location of a distress call. It is estimated by the FCC as many as 70% of emergency calls are made from wireless devices. Since mobile numbers are not tied to a particular region, unless the caller knows the exact location from where they are making the call, it is difficult for responders to react quickly. Further, with a landline, dispatchers can send help even if the caller is unable to communicate with the operator. However, when the call is made from a cell phone, there is virtually nothing the current 911 system can do.
Enter SirenGPS, a new app available for both Android and iOS. With the app, the person needing help basically has a panic button in the palm of his hand. The app places a call to the nearest 911 operator and immediately feeds them information as to where the emergency is taking place. During testing, incoming information from the app about the location and nature of the emergency actually arrived at the dispatcher in advance of the call being connected. It is estimated that use of this technology will reduce response time by as much as 40%.
Another potentially life-saving feature of the app is that a user can build a personal profile. This profile information can include a photograph as well as medical history to give paramedics inside as to how treatment should proceed.
SirenGPS in North Texas
The North Texas city of Keller has recently started using the service. According to a recently published statement, nearly half of all family homes in their community do not have traditional landline phone service and the ability to dispatch emergency calls accurately has become much more challenging in recent years. According to their data, calls generated to their dispatchers by SirenGPS have provided an accurate location for the emergency in 90% of the calls.
Cities utilizing the Siren GPS system can also use the app in reverse for mass messaging. They can communicate instantly with all app users of dangers such as weather or violent crime of which they need to be aware.
Of course, the key here is that the community in which you reside must be a part of the Siren GPS network. Inquire of your city government about the availability for you to use this innovative and life-saving technology and if they have not set the Siren GPS system in place, encourage them to do so.