connectVideo’Aging’ 9-1-1 systems slowly start to see video and text upgrades
Emergency communications centers have been started with the introduction of live streaming video and text messaging options right in the wake of criticism about the country’s aging 911 systems.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — “Is the patient there?” asked Camri Copeland, a communications officer. There. Copeland could actually see the scene of a car accident of a emergency communications center in Fayette County, Ga. by means of one of america’s first video-live streaming 911 calls.
The video helped pinpoint exactly where the cars were first responders on the way to the scene.
“You get a better understanding of what’s going on,” Copeland, less than two years in the job, told Fox News. “Use your eyes and ears, so it is just the advantage of the ability to see what [the 911 callers] will probably not see it.”
International company, Carbyne, brought the technology to the U.S. earlier this year. It has rolled out, video and text messaging options on six public safety answering points (PSAPs) so far, with three on the road.
The technology comes amid a wake of criticism about the country’s aging 911 systems, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
Over the past two decades, as wireless technology has rapidly advanced, experts have wondered why America’s most critical communication system is still struggling to keep pace.
Apps such as Uber and Facebook can find for mobile users, but many 911 centers still have a difficult time finding wireless callers who do not know their location — and, in an emergency, mere seconds can make the difference between life and death.
Fox Emilie Ikeda tests from Fayette County, video, 911 calls, and seems to be on a call-taker’s screen.
“Now, the communication habits and preferences of America are changing so quickly away from the talks,” said Dan Henry, director of government affairs with the National Emergency number Association. “It is really critical that the 911 keeps up with these developments or otherwise, is likely to lose.”
Local governments to pay for 911 centers, which has led to a “patchwork version” of the technology, ” said Henry. So while one county may have the latest equipment-with text and video capabilities — a nearby province or the municipality may have aging technology that hinders the ability to immediately locate a caller.
About 80 percent of 911 calls are made from mobile phones.
A bill that is currently before Congress – that will probably be next session is focused on accelerating upgrades nationwide with additional federal grants.
A recent report to Congress showed estimated costs of NG911 implementation, which would be the transition PSAPs on an Internet Protocol based 911 system, allowing a smoother flow of digital information, is between $9.5 and 12.7 billion euros.
The problem is that, because of outdated technology, a 911 call from a mobile phone does not provide the 911 operator with the precise location — the call pinged to a cell phone tower, allowing the call center to a vague sense of where the caller is.
Brian Fontes, CEO of the National Emergency Number Association, a group that promotes technology improvements in the 911 systems nationwide, said that the inability to keep pace with rapidly changing technology is hurting everyone.
“[A] First-first responder is in a world of hurt,” Fontes said. “Many of the 911 today is stuck in the last century…Can you imagine that you are able to talk only in a voice channel?”
Fire personnel, in Fayette County, Ga. ready for a truck to respond to emergencies.
Less than a third of PSAPs to provide text-to-911 as an option, and even less offer for video, according to the FCC.
But there are a few municipalities on the cutting edge of technology.
When residents dial 911 in Fayette County, communications professionals can send a link to the caller of the phone, which makes it possible to video live stream or text.
Interim director of Fayette County 911, Kayte Vogt, called it a comfort factor. “They realize that I know exactly where they are,” she said.
Residents can also by Carbyne app for video, text and improved location detection.
Melissa Alterio works north of Atlanta, where residents can text 911 directly. They heralded the technology, which points to a case in which a call-taker was able to give medical advice via sms to someone who was having trouble breathing, so didn’t want to talk on the phone.
While Alterio see how the text and video can provide call-takers more direct information, they ask if there is such a thing as providing too much information.
“We experience trauma just talking to someone on the phone by their worst crisis,” Alterio told Fox News. “But once we start seeing graphic images…we are very concerned about the trauma that going to have on the 911 professionals.”
It is something even Carbyne acknowledge.
“We acknowledge that the video has the potential to do amazing things, but also risks adding trauma for call-takers,” Amir Elichai, founder of Carbyne, wrote in an e-mail to Fox News.
Elichai, a former Israeli Army officer, said this area of concern needs to be investigated. But, in the meantime, the technology provides the opportunity for the communications officer turn off the video.
For Copeland, who comes from a family with the police, they said it is all part of what they signed up for. “It’s kind of a ‘work’ situation.”