May 22, 2019
California to 'revolutionize' 911 call centers with upgrades
SACRAMENTO--The state of California said it will “revolutionize” emergency response with an overhaul of its 911 call centers, according to the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES).

RapidDeploy is a new, cloud-based system that will improve location accuracy and natural disaster awareness for responders with live data feeds for fires, earthquakes, flooding, weather, traffic, and incidents, Cal OES announced Monday.

“Most technology that serves public safety and 911 today is at least one generation out of date – we’re talking 15 to 25 years out of date,” said Steven Raucher, CEO and co-founder of RapidDeploy. “They wouldn’t know live traffic. They wouldn’t be able to give turn-by-turn navigation. They wouldn’t know the location of the handset that’s calling 911.”

The state said it will update all 440 California 911 call centers with this technology.

“A lot of solutions we take for granted every day, right, like, Uber and meal delivery things can find you with an app seamlessly and 911 can’t do that today,” Raucher told NBC 7.

Roughly half of all calls that come into 911 centers do not have a dispatchable address attached to them, Raucher said.

By 2022, the Federal Communications Commission will require wireless carriers to provide location accuracy of about 165 feet or less when someone dials 911 four out of five times. RapidDeploy will exceed that standard, Cal OES said.

“The platform the state procured is future-proof and provides real-time analytics and business intelligence that allows California to accelerate the transition to Next Generation 9-1-1,” Cal OES said in a released statement.

There are more than 6,000 different 911 call centers in the country, according to Cal OES, with major discrepancies between them, including differences in technology and governance.

These centers currently use a system originally built for landline phones named Enhanced 911 or E911, which creates “severe gaps” in location information, Cal OES said. Often, the system only provides a cell tower location, and though it could triangulate another location, it comes at a delay.

While landline phones have addresses attached to their numbers in this system, 81 percent of all calls in California are now done with cell phones, Raucher said, prompting challenges for responders with E911.

E911 prevents centers from “receiving location data in a robust and timely fashion,” Cal OES said. If E911 were more accurate, the FCC estimated 10,000 lives could be saved every year.

Though, some progress has been made since the phone systems from the 1980s. RapidSOS is a supplemental location tracking system that works with companies like Apple, Google, and Waze to receive faster and more accurate location information.

However, while some 911 call centers are able to use additional systems like RapidSOS, others are still unable to due to so because of outdated technology in the centers, Cal OES said, causing large disparities in emergency operations.

This is why the state of California said it’s now calling on RapidDeploy, which partners with RapidSOS.

Four pilot 911 centers have already begun using RapidDeploy, and soon 50 more centers will start using the new technology, according to Jamison Peevyhouse, president of the National Emergency Number Association.

“We always say that 911 saves seconds and seconds saves lives. When you think about location accuracy and how long it takes us to actually find that person first before we can even send a resource to their need. Now, we’re cutting that time down by sometimes minutes,” Peevyhouse told NBC 7. ”We’re seeing lives being saved on a scale that we’ve never even dreamed.”

The RapidDeploy rollout will be completed by fall 2019 in what Cal OES said will be the “largest-ever deployment” of its kind and “raises the bar for other states to follow.” (Source: KNBC)
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