In an emergency, every moment counts – split-second decisions can be the difference between walking away unharmed and serious consequences. It’s hard to predict how people will react during emergencies, whether they’ll panic and act irrationally, or stay calm and make the right decisions. There are over 240 million emergency calls each year, and many of their outcomes are decided in the first few minutes.
When emergencies do occur, people want to get help as soon as they can: they call their loved ones or they call 911. But what happens when they can’t reach the phone? Or they’re too panicked to be able to tell someone what’s happening? Or worse yet, they’re too injured or they’re unconscious?
As the saying goes, there’s an app for that. Or more accurately, every app can help.
The 911 system is built around a phone call, designed for landline phones all the way back in the 1960s. The technology in our 911 centers hasn’t changed all that much since then, so first responders can only receive an extremely limited (512 bytes!) amount of data.
But our apps have so much potentially life-saving data onboard, from Uber’s passenger profiles to BRAVE’s opioid overdose detection platform, yet first responders can only receive what’s communicated to them over the phone. For apps that want to offer industry-leading levels of protection, whether it’s through panic buttons, safety features, or emergency contact connections, it’s a serious roadblock to overcome.
What good is all that data if it can’t help the people that will save your user’s life or protect our communities? On the flipside what good would it be if a tidal wave of data was sent to 911 every time someone needed help? That would hardly make a difference in the precious seconds we often have.
That’s where RapidSOS comes in.
We work with over 4,700 public safety agencies worldwide to help get them the data they need to modernize their technology. Through our emergency response data platform, we push incident-specific data directly to their screens during emergencies through our web-based platform that was built in direct consultation with first responders. It seamlessly fits new sources of data into their workflows, so they can dispatch resources faster and find people quicker.
The nature of getting help in emergencies makes it so that first responders are reliant on what a caller communicates: the location, the situation, victims or casualties, and any other relevant information. Like we said before, it’s impossible to predict how someone might behave in a stressful situation, so a lot can be lost in the fray.
Getting incident-specific data to first responders, whether it’s just device-based location data, or detailed medical profiles and telemetry data, significantly reduces interrogation times. On top of that, it helps first responders know what they’re getting into, what gear to bring, what healthcare providers to send, and what dangers to be aware of.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed us just how important it is to prepare our EMTs, firefighters, paramedics, and police for situations, when they risked exposure to COVID-19 while responding to emergencies. RapidSOS, among hundreds of other companies, helped get COVID-19 symptom data to first responders so they could know when to gear up their scarcely limited PPE, especially when call volumes surged across the country.
The difference maker here was that apps like Uber were actively sharing COVID-19 data with first responders to protect their users, independent contractors, and employees. This data, shared through the emergency response data platform, is actively protecting app users, while giving them the peace of mind to know they’re covered in emergencies.
When lockdown orders were issued nationwide, our collective lifestyle’s were turned on their heads. It was no longer safe to do the thing we’d always done, like going out for dinner, getting groceries, or even just hanging out with friends. Many of us relied on our favorite apps and social media platforms to retain a sense of normalcy, so we could order groceries and takeout while watching Netflix with some friends, without the danger of exposure.
Unfortunately, that meant putting a lot of the burden onto delivery drivers and frontline workers, especially those making ends meet through the gig economy. Apps started taking steps to protect their users on either side of the platform, by providing features like daily email and in-app updates, bluetooth contact tracing, and even direct links to emergency services.
As a result, it’s becoming an expectation among users that their apps take their safety seriously. Committing to safety, through partnerships, donations, and genuine protection, are standing out as key differentiators in the app market.
Uber, the industry-defining ride-sharing app, has always stayed ahead of the curve with safety features. They partnered with RapidSOS in 2018 to connect the Uber app to the emergency response data platform. Two years later, when COVID-19 struck, Uber was prepared to connect drivers and riders to emergency services through the Safety Toolkit.
“We have been talking to our driver-partners and riders about what matters to them in terms of safety, and overwhelmingly they talked about emergency response as something they really wanted in the app.”– Karan Singh, Sr. Product Manager, Uber
Now, in participating cities, when a rider or driver uses the in-app emergency button to call 911, the caller’s name and car’s make, model, color, license plate, and live location are automatically made available to dispatchers, right on their screen.
COVID-19 has undoubtedly made many companies reconsider how they protect their users, families, and communities. They’re going beyond contact tracing and hyperlinking CDC tips to help assist emergency response – and the market is reacting.
Join us on Thursday, August 27th at 11 AM ET for a webinar on how apps are adapting to changing expectations for safety.
We’ll talk about: