Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Smart 911

Several weeks ago Owensboro-Daviess County Central Dispatch announced the launch of a new service, Smart911, to better serve residents in emergencies. The Smart911 system relies on residents to voluntarily provide information, such as the number of people in their family, medical conditions, emergency contacts, rescue needs, pet information, etc. In an emergency, a dispatcher will be able to provide that information of officers, firefighters or EMTs. Residents simply visit www.smart911.com and create a profile for their family. Then they enter the information they want emergency responders to have. It’s very easy to use. 

Smart911 system goes online
By James Mayse, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Thursday, August 18, 2011 12:42 AM CDT
The Owensboro-Daviess County combined 911 center launched an upgraded 911 service on Monday that will potentially give dispatchers a considerable amount of information on residents that they can relay to responders in an emergency.

But in order for the service to be useful, people need to supply information to the system.

The Smart911 system relies on residents to voluntarily provide information about a number of things, such as the number of people in their family, if anyone in the family has a specific medical condition and the physical description of their home. In an emergency, a dispatcher will be able to provide that information of officers, firefighters or EMTs, which will better prepare them to meet the needs of the situation.

People can even provide photos of themselves and their family members, which can be sent to police officers responding to a scene, combined 911 Director Paul Nave said. In the case of a missing child, for example, “We could automatically (take) that picture and send it out to the MDTs,” or mobile data terminals in officers’ cars, Nave said.
The Smart911 system is also used in Lexington, Frankfort, Jessamine County and in areas outside Kentucky, such as Davidson County, Tenn. Nave said the information people provide is protected by Smart911 — the company that provides the service — and is only accessible to dispatcher if a person places a 911 call.
“(The information) is not maintained here. It’s maintained by the Smart911 server,” Nave said. “They make sure it’s encrypted and firewalled. It’s not easily accessible.

“We can’t get that information at all unless there’s a 911 call,” Nave said. “Then (Smart911) sends it to us automatically.”

Although the Smart911 registration site contains specific questions, the amount of information people provide is entirely up to them, Nave said.

“If you’re not comfortable putting (a piece of information) in there, by all means don’t,” Nave said. The goal is to better help responders assist during an emergency, and to save time by notifying emergency crews if a person has special needs, Nave said.

Getting the information to responders before their arrival “would save a lot of time,” Nave said.

Also, Nave urged people to register their cellphone numbers on the dispatch center’s emergency notification system. If an emergency is taking place in a neighborhood, dispatchers can send a message to every cellphone in the neighborhood that is registered for the service.

“(Residents) aren’t taking advantage of it,” Nave said. “I wish they would realize the significance of utilizing it in an emergency.”

The service has been used to warn people in the past. Nave said. For example, residents in one neighborhood received messages after a person suspected of stealing items while armed was seen in the area. A person received the message, turned on her porch light and saw the suspect standing there, Nave said. The suspect was arrested a short time later.

The system “kept people safe and we apprehended the suspect,” Nave said.

To Register

To register with the Smart911 system online, visit www.smart911.com. To register for the county’s emergency notification system, visit www.owensboro.org/ens.

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