As we reflect on 2019 and welcome the new year, our team is excited to share our predictions for trends in the public safety and tech industries in 2020.
Looking back at 2019
The 9-1-1 community manages thousands of emergencies each day, and we are thankful to have played a small part in saving lives across the country in 2019. Read some of our impact stories here.
“Our Fire and Rescue System forced Jeremy’s door down based exclusively on the Android ELS location data available from Google and RapidSOS. This was especially notable considering that he was within a row of identical townhouses, which would require door to door searching if it was not for the new technology. Myself and all personnel working on this incident feel certain that if this technology had not been available, this situation would have resulted in a fatality.”
Eddie Reyes, Director of Public Safety Communications at Prince William County
We are also grateful to our connected device and IoT partners who work with us to prioritize user safety and create data-driven emergency response. This year, we expanded our network of data partners to include organizations like the American Heart Association, Avaya and 911inform, allowing ECCs access to richer, contextual, and life-saving information during emergencies.
For many years, ECCs have lacked sufficient data around 9-1-1 calls. This challenge is finally being tackled by new technologies, but there is still a fear factor when it comes to operationalizing the data and an ongoing debate within the comms industry about how much data is too much.
The barrier can be broken down by understanding how more data can impact the emergency response process. Data helps point first responders in the right direction and eliminates time spent on lengthy verbal conversations in moments when seconds truly matter. It also presents better awareness of an incident. With ample training tools provided in advance of introducing new data sources, the information can quickly become operationalized in the center. The impact is better situational awareness for first responders, proper allocation of resources, and faster call processing times (a game changer in understaffed agencies).
2020 will encourage exploration of more types of data that can help improve emergency response. For example, different types of sensor data from commercial applications within buildings (including temperature, chemical, gas, etc.) can be essential in triggering 9-1-1 calls without an individual needing to dial 9-1-1. Realizing that data is helpful, not hurtful will help eliminate concerns and as a result, give momentum to NG efforts.
Drones will expand with emergency use
There have been initial trials to begin using drones by public safety agencies. At this year’s Emerging Technology Forum, public safety community trailblazers spoke about the abilities of drones to expand the capabilities of emergency response. In the future, drones can be dispatched to the scene first for situational awareness or safety purposes and help scout the area of an incident prior to first responders actually arriving on scene.
Continuing to Address Mental Health in the ECC
9-1-1 professionals, whether on the field or in the communications center, are susceptible to PTSD in their work environment. As such, it is imperative that we take care of those on both sides of the headset. Through initiatives with NENA, many agencies are making great strides to provide improved support for their telecommunicators who are dealing with the impact and stress of being a public safety professional. It is important for authorities to understand the symptoms of PTSD and provide resources such as counselors, communication center quiet rooms, and meditations apps to help telecommunicators avoid burnouts and remain mentally healthy.
As the Internet of Life-Saving Things expands, data-driven emergency response will become the next focal point in public safety. Telecommunicators already have access to location information and rich profile and situational data ― now the next step is to enable data-first requests for service, before the phone even rings in the ECC.
With the support of public safety and our connected data partners, RapidSOS is excited to continue striving towards our mission to connect the world with public safety.