Frequently Asked Questions: RapidSOS Platform

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The RapidSOS Platform was previously called NG911 Clearinghouse.

What is the RapidSOS Platform?

The RapidSOS Platform is a NG911 Standards compliant service, that includes a LIS and ADR that meets i3 and IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) standards, that is accessible to authorized PSAPs through integrations into all major call-taking equipment, mapping software, and CAD products.

In other words…

The RapidSOS Platform receives data from the Internet of Things (smartphones, connected cars, wearables, and connected homes) and securely sends the relevant data to 9-1-1 and first responders.

Where does the RapidSOS Platform data come from?

RapidSOS has partnerships with various connected device companies (wearables, connected car, connected home, smartphones). In an emergency, precise location and rich data (when available) is transmitted to the RapidSOS Platform from enabled devices. Example data sources include Apple, Uber, and Waze – and there’s many more to be announced (stay up-to-date on all announcements by subscribing to our blog).

Why do I need location from the RapidSOS Platform if I already get it from the Wireless Carrier?

The RapidSOS Platform provides PSAPs with supplemental device-based location information in addition to the ALI Phase 1 and Phase 2 location information.

Citizens often ask, “Why can Uber find me but 9-1-1 can’t?” Apps like Uber locate users based on device-based location, whereas 9-1-1 today still uses a network-centric approach that often falls back to cell-tower triangulation when a GPS fix cannot be obtained. Device-based location, available to PSAPs through the RapidSOS Platform, combines all of the sensors on a smartphone. In comparative location testing, device-based location has shown to be faster and more accurate than traditional network-based location mechanisms.

Data from comparative location testing done at Hamilton County 911 in April 2018. Full report available for download here.

Even if/when Wireless Carriers start processing device-based location, outdated delivery mechanisms like ALI typically introduce a delay and risk for inconsistencies. In the old paradigm of Phase 1 and Phase 2 information, call-takers need to manually re-bid for a more accurate location without knowing when exactly it’ll be available. Delivering location through the RapidSOS Clearinghouse makes the most accurate location information available to the call-takers automatically, without a need to request it through a system that is slow and unreliable.

Is the RapidSOS Platform an over-the-top application?

No. The RapidSOS Platform integrates directly with existing PSAP call-taking, dispatch, and mapping software systems. Our full list of integration partners can be found here.

RapidSOS provides a free web-browser solution, RapidSOS Portal, as an intermediary solution while PSAPs explore the full integration with their software vendors.

Is the RapidSOS Platform a replacement for the ALI?

No. RapidSOS location and additional data comes in as supplemental information. Call-takers and dispatchers will still receive the ALI location they are used to.

Does the RapidSOS Platform cost money?

RapidSOS does not charge public safety to receive access to the RapidSOS Platform. There may be a small software cost through the PSAP software vendor. Any PSAP can receive 100% free access to the RapidSOS Platform via RapidSOS Portal today.

What is RapidSOS Portal?

RapidSOS Portal is a simple, secure and easily accessible tool to retrieve location information from the RapidSOS Platform. Once a PSAP Administrator successfully sets up an account, PSAP staff can simply enter a call back number for a 9-1-1 caller and RapidSOS Portal will return location information when available in the RapidSOS Clearinghouse.

Your agency should use RapidSOS Portal if:

  • The current version of your agency’s call-handling, CAD, or mapping software does not yet support the RapidSOS Platform integration
  • You are waiting for your vendor to deploy the RapidSOS Platform integration
  • You are evaluating, or are in the process of, installing the full integration

RapidSOS Portal allows every agency to access data from theRapidSOS Platform, regardless of the compatibility of existing software. Any authorized PSAP can sign up for RapidSOS Portal today, for free.

What is NG911 & how does RapidSOS fit in?

Next Generation 911 (NG911) is a term that is often used for the migration of a copper-wire based legacy telephony system to a more robust, Internet Protocol (IP)-based platform that will allow voice calls, texts, location information and more to be transmitted in a more reliable, scalable and robust manner. Most features of the RapidSOS Platform do not require a full NG911 network deployment. The only requirement other than an ability to display RapidSOS Platform data is a secure robust IP connection from the PSAP to the RapidSOS Platform. If NG911 is a data superhighway, RapidSOS is the data that travels on it.

What are PSAPs saying about the RapidSOS Platform?

Still have questions? Fill out this form and a member of our public safety team will reach out to set up a meeting one-on-one. Ready to get access to the RapidSOS Platform for your PSAP? Request access now.