Bringing 911 Into the 21st Century

Bringing 911 Into the 21st Century

Data from connected devices can help emergency services providers save more lives.

Young Innovator Michael Martin conceived of RapidSOS after narrowly escaping a mugging. The incident made him realize how hard it could be to contact and communicate with 911 dispatchers in an actual crisis.

That’s because the U.S. 911 infrastructure was largely created in the landline-only world of the 1960s, when callers had to give location and situation details verbally. Systems now show landline phones’ exact addresses, but millions of 911 calls are made on cell phones. And most of us are connected via other devices, too, from wearable fitness trackers to car navigation services to smart home systems.

With so much data available via connected devices, the notion of using that information to save lives is a welcome one. With RapidSOS, emergency dispatchers receive supplemental location data from the device that’s contacting them, and they also get vehicle and health data, if it’s available. The system also alerts loved ones, putting them in touch with emergency responders.

But at the end of the day, it’s all about time. RapidSOS reports it gets help to users up to five minutes faster, which translates to a 2–10-percent reduction in mortality rates after 911 calls.

PHOTO ABOVE: Michael Martin, co-founder and CEO, RapidSOS

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