On September 16th, RapidSOS held its first ever Virtual User Group, an online event dedicated to the first responders and public safety professionals supported by the emergency response data platform. Our heroes, whether behind the headset or on the frontlines, have faced a year full of unprecedented challenges, from the COVID-19 pandemic to wildfires raging across the western US.
We’re humbled by their commitment to their communities and to public safety, and eager to support them through 2020 and beyond. They shared with us their thoughts, concerns, and expectations for RapidSOS, and in turn we shared our vision, plans, and learnings from the year. In this article, we’ll explore the four biggest takeaways from the event.
1) Introducing the emergency response data platform
Earlier this year, after eight years of development over $107 million in funding, RapidSOS introduced the world’s first emergency response data platform. The data platform is a secure clearinghouse for over 350 million connected devices, platforms, and sensors to share data with first responders in emergencies.
We partner with companies certified as RapidSOS Ready that are answering the call to get more data to first responders, whether it’s to protect their customers, employees, or communities. Public safety answering points (PSAPs) can access this data through RapidSOS Portal or through a RapidSOS integration in their CAD, mapping, or CPE software.
The RapidSOS platform is the result of thousands of hours of work in consultation with over 5,200 first responders, and is refined every day with the help and feedback from our over 5,200 PSAP partners. “Over the course of the last seven years, you’ve been there with us with every step of the way to build this with us,” said Michael Martin in the closing remarks. “As we sit here in 2020, we need you more than ever.” RapidSOS is encouraging PSAP users to send in their feedback and suggestions to help make the platform as useful as possible.
2) The growing demand for medical data in the 911 center
99 percent of Americans believe 911 could save more lives if they had access to better data during emergencies. RapidSOS aims to connect the dots and break down the silos between care providers to ensure first responders have the best intel when arriving on scene, and healthcare providers have access to a complete picture of the patient’s journey.
During his User Group session, Eugene Hsu, MD, MBA, and RapidSOS’ Head of Healthcare, remarked, “[in the ER] there is often a poor patient experience…there are almost unsafe wait times all throughout the healthcare system.”
The events of 2020 have revealed the need for greater communication and collaboration throughout our public safety system. COVID-19 testing data and contact tracing highlighted deficiencies in analog-driven systems, as first responders and frontline workers alike sought to protect themselves in the early days of the pandemic.
As 911 call volumes swelled and emergency resources grew scarce, it was harder and harder for them to protect themselves. They need to know what they were getting into, and what they’d be exposed to, when they responded to emergency calls. They often had to ask themselves, would they use all of their PPE now, or save it for later?
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, RapidSOS worked quickly and diligently with partners at Apple, The American Red Cross, and Direct Relief to help share life-saving data from health profiles and medical IDs with 911 during emergencies.
3) Better situational awareness for 911 is mission-critical
As IoT technology and 5G connectivity circulates higher volumes of complex data throughout the public safety ecosystem, first responders can potentially have access to life-saving data from a variety of sources. However, it’s important they’re not overwhelmed with irrelevant information: they need better situational awareness to improve emergency response.
One of the biggest limitations to getting that data to first responders, however, is the 911 infrastructure itself. In fact, only 31 percent of 911 telecommunicators believe they can consistently and reliably receive accurate information through their ALI/CAD software.
Providing better intel can tangibly impact the emergency response process, reducing the time it takes to verify information, improving the efficient allocation of emergency resources, and protecting first responders from dangers on scene.
According to Jeff Johnson, President of the Western Fire Chiefs Association, “First responders, very simply want [more data]. They want a more informed response…to contribute to enhanced situational awareness from other responders.”
This intel can come from a variety of sources, like digital health devices, smart security systems, and platforms within a smart building ecosystem. During a session on smart buildings, Monica Million, Immediate Past President of NENA, remarked: “…to connect all those dots to paint the very best picture to the men and women responding in the field to not only protect them, but to provide the right response to the people asking for help in the field.”
4) Partnering to reach everyone
Throughout the day, we heard from a variety of our partners in public safety, technology, and government about the initiatives we’re collaborating on to transform emergency response. We’re humbled and excited by the depth of our partnerships, and are eager to bring more into the fold on our mission to help first responders save lives and protect communities.
Partners like Carbyne, DragonForce, Hexagon, and RAVE shared their insights and initiatives for future data sources within and integrations into RapidSOS technology. Alongside our growing roster of technology partners, like Cove Security and SiriusXM, we’re identifying new sources of data and new opportunities to get first responders better intelligence.
These partnerships are key to solving the 911 data challenge: RapidSOS serves as a single integration point for first responders to access life-saving data during emergencies. Without a single source of this data, first responders would be overwhelmed with information that wouldn’t be actionable, and would therefore be unable to use it in life-threatening situations.
Looking ahead to 2021
As the year winds down, we’ve learned a lot and have much to be thankful for. We can’t express our gratitude for our public safety partners enough, and we’re eager to work alongside them on this journey. In the year ahead, RapidSOS is planning to expand further into Mexico and Europe, while deepening our relationships with public safety. With new features and products in the pipeline, we’re anticipating even more opportunities for technology and people to come together to save lives.
Whether they’re staring down a wildfire, battling a pandemic, or responding to a break-in, we’re supporting our heroic first responders every step of the way.
Want to learn how you can join the fight to transform emergency response? Talk to an expert today.