Hit The Panic Button
May 22, 2011
Henry Siegel, Chief Visionary Officer (love that title) at MobileTrec helped me understand what Personal Safety Networks (PSN) can do for people. And it’s a lot. Henry made the analogy that their solution is like having OnStar on your cell phone. If you get into trouble you can literally hit a panic button on the phone which sends emails and text alerts to your emergency contacts along with your GPS location and also connects you to a call center. The call center can connect you, the people on your emergency contact list, and the appropriate 911 dispatch center in a conference call. The call center can even send an Emergency Safety Profile (vital statistics, medical conditions, GPS location, current photo, and more) to the PSAP dispatcher.
This also solves the problem of misdirected 911 calls. If I am vacationing in Colorado and call 911 from my cell phone I will probably get routed to the PSAP in Bellevue, WA near where I live. With the MobileTrec application I would be routed to the nearest PSAP no matter where I am. That’s a good thing.
This application can also send special instructions or important medical information to 911 dispatchers, emergency responders, and anyone you want across the United States or the world. Also a good thing.
This application works best on any Smartphone but the older feature phones can use speed dial instead of an actual panic button.
I see both personal and professional ways to use this technology. On the personal side, kids could use it (especially my daughter who is off to college), elderly relatives, vacationers, and people with medical conditions. On the professional side, businesses could use it for their employees, field workers, drivers, and business travelers. Public safety agencies could use it for their field staff. In a disaster scenario, people could use it to let others know that they are in trouble and where they are located.
Here’s a thought – since most cities use a PSAP at some level, they could become the call center for the service and offer it to citizens and employees. The city could actually generate revenue through this service. This is why Henry is the Chief Visionary Officer, he thinks outside the box.
What Sets Them Apart
This is the only solution of its type that can connect mobile numbers, Google Voice, Skype, or Vonage mobile phone applications to emergency services nationwide. It is also the only certified solution that can deliver the subscriber’s name, cell number, precise GPS location, pictures, and vital information to the nearest PSAP.
The free version includes text and email panic button alerts to your safety network.
The $14.95/month version gets you the full featured panic button, text and email alerts, 24/7 call center conference calling, direct access to 911, advanced GPS location services, and an emergency safety profile.
People are very mobile. Most people have or know how to use cell phones. It’s a tough world out there and you never know what can happen. This service can help you, your family, your employees, and the people you serve stay safer. I’m signing my family up.
As the FCC and public safety officials work to define and build out the next-generation 911 infrastructure that will be capable of providing first responders with detailed situational awareness of the scene of an emergency, universities, localities and states have begun building and using some of the pieces envisioned in the completed whole. Providing beneficial information to first responders when a 911 call is received could decrease response times and increase safety.
Numerous projects are under way to increase the flow of information between governments and citizens. For example, state and local governments, including Delaware and two Georgia cities, are encouraging citizens to verify their address and register basic medical information with them to facilitate emergency assistance. And universities have begun deploying platforms that allow users to text 911.
Now a California school district is piloting a smartphone application that brings all those capabilities together and allows students to reach out for emergency help with a touch of a button. So far 12 students in the Alhambra Unified School District are testing the app, called SafeKidZone, which creates a personal safety network for children that quickly connects to 911 when they push the “panic button.”
The app, developed by telematics provider MobileTrec, allows parents to program a list of contacts into the phone that are simultaneously alerted when the child holds down a designated number on the phone that acts as a panic button. Once activated, a text message and e-mail are sent to the people in the child’s safety network; they may also be connected in a conference call to hear what’s happening.
As part of the set up process, the child is given a safety profile, which may include a picture, physical description and any special instructions first responders may need to know in the event of an emergency, such as if the child is allergic to penicillin or doesn’t understand English.
The child’s location and safety profile information is transmitted to a public safety dispatcher through the 911 trunk in accordance with California’s voice over IP enhanced 911 acceptance testing criteria. The location information is then plotted on a map on the dispatcher’s screen with a link to the safety profile viewable through a Web browser.
Although as of press time, the app hadn’t been activated by a student, Sgt. Jerry Johnson, who oversees the project for the Alhambra Police Department, said the students feel safer just having the application in their pocket. “These are kids who are getting bullied, who are maybe a little bit afraid [of] maybe the neighborhood,” he said.
Parents like the idea that they can be notified when their child is in distress. “They think it’s wonderful that within 10 seconds [their child] can push a panic button and these people are notified, and mom and dad know what’s going on,” Johnson said.
In addition, the app can send pictures as well as stream video and audio from a caller’s location, which the police department can accept on a limited basis. Prior to the launch of the pilot, SafeTrec worked with Gamaliel Catalan, a communications supervisor for the Alhambra Police Department, to determine what information dispatchers needed on their screens. “XY was the most important thing,” he said, “but also being able to retrieve the [safety profile] information on the caller.”
The first students have been using the application for a couple months. Johnson planned to distribute additional phones by June 24. School district representatives declined to comment on the pilot or were not immediately available for comment.
Increasing Safety For All
SafeKidZone is also available to the public as a free app that allows parents to set up a safety profile for their children and be notified by text or e-mail if their child is in distress. The same app is also available for adults under the name SafeTrec. With both apps, $14.95 a month allows emergency contacts and dispatchers to see callers’ locations and live conference calls connecting callers with their safety networks and 911 dispatchers. Wireless network data charges may apply.
Callers’ location and safety profile information is displayed on dispatchers’ monitors as an additional map layer sent to through the 911 trunk. The safety profile is viewable in a Web browser. Some public safety answering point systems may need to be upgraded to receive streaming audio and video or the location information depending on the state of their systems.
Carl Dorton, 911 coordinator for Tarrant County, Texas, see the app’s potential but said the county will need to make some upgrades to its systems to utilize the information. “We used to have a caller’s voice. Then we had the addressing. Then we had the location, the telephone number,” he said. “Now we’re adding more information. The more information can be cumbersome, but the more educated the dispatcher becomes for different programs the better it is for them to utilize that information appropriately.”
The Federal Communication Commission (FCC), in October 2009, invited SafeKidZone (Both SafeKidZone and SafeTrec were developed by the parent company MobileTrec), developer of advanced personal safety software for mobile devices, to comment on the vital need for adoption of broadband technologies by 911 Operators. Currently, data on emergency situations can only be submitted to 911 Operators verbally by telephone, when capabilities exist for data such as photographs, precise GPS locations, mapping and much more to be instantly transmitted over broadband.
SafeTREC is a member of the MobileTREC family of mobile phone safety products. These products provide a quick emergency response method for the public to use from their mobile phone in case of danger.
SafeTREC’s parent company, MobileTREC, is proud to be partnered with the Alhambra Unified School District and Alhambra Police Department. This project is designed to reduce the incidence of school bullying as well as making a safer overall experience for their students and families.
SafeTREC’s parent company, MobileTREC, is now a member of the NENA (National Emergency Number Association) Next-Generation (NG) Partner Program. NENA’s Next Generation Partner Program (NGPP) is a collaborative effort between public and private stakeholders. It was created to anticipate the impact of emerging technologies on 9-1-1 services and provide an expert forum to support resolution of basic issues that, if unresolved, would block progress toward next-generation 9-1-1. The ultimate goal of NENA’s Next Generation Partner Program is to ensure that everyone has access to emergency services anytime, anywhere, from any device. MobileTREC will now be contributing our considerable technological expertise to the forward motion of next-generation emergency calling services.
SafeTrec is an app exclusive on SHOP4APPS by Motorola and is featured in the promotion of SHOP4APPS stores pre-loaded on handsets launched in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.