Being the Nation’s Lifeline

April 14, 2016

During National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, we honor the men and women who answer our calls for help.  As a former 9-1-1 call taker, I feel compelled to share what being a 9-1-1 professional has grown to mean to me over the years, as a way to say, “Thank You 9-1-1.”

When hearing someone express their gratitude to a telecommunicator, I have witnessed a genuine display of humility.  He or she simply responds in turn with “No problem. That’s my job.”  Being a 9-1-1 call taker isn’t just a job, it’s a profession.  It carries the traits and the highest of expec ... Read More


Leaving a Legacy 9-1-1 Style

March 28, 2016

While traveling to Las Vegas for a conference I sat near a pair of fathers and their sons in the airport terminal. The fathers were coaching their (adult) sons on the nuances of winning at blackjack – their winning formula. For some reason, this got me to thinking about what legacy we pass on – not just to our children, but those we work with and for.

Those who have chosen 9-1-1 as a career have a unique legacy. They have chosen to work in a job of self-sacrifice. Frankly, the financial rewards aren’t commensurate with the sacrifice of family and emotional toll the job takes. I ... Read More


AlertSeattle: From Planning to Launch – An Insider View

March 14, 2016

In 2011, the City of Seattle decided to select a new emergency notifcation system because their existing system wasn’t being used because it was out of date and difficult to use. As a result, the City had a diminished ability to alert the public.

After establishing mandatory, technical, and security requirements, the City of Seattle, with the sponsorship of 8 departments, released the RFP on July 23, 2014.

The City of Seattle’s goal was to draft an RFP that enabled meaningful response by vendors and the final selection based on conducting challenging on-site demonstrations ... Read More


When 9-1-1 is the Last Call: Incorporating 9-1-1 in Planning for School Emergencies

March 7, 2016

During a school emergency, 9-1-1 is the first call made. Yet, 9-1-1 is often left out of planning for school emergencies.

During a campus-wide event, 9-1-1 is integral in keeping schools safe.  9-1-1 coordinates emergency response, playing a vital role as a lifeline between the crisis and the first responders who are needed to help.

A complete emergency plan requires an expanded planning team, a concept that FEMA, the Department of Justice, and the Department o ... Read More

Scott McGrath

Time for a Tune-Up? Get the Most Out of Your Alert System

March 1, 2016

Spring cleaning can take many forms. When it comes to emergency alerting and response, public safety and emergency managers have clear processes for policy and procedure review, both before and after action.

Yet it might also be useful to look at safety software you’re already using to see if new features and functions have arisen that can improve enhance the ways you do things.

From our point of view as a safety software vendor, when we introduce new fe ... Read More

The Danger of Non-Emergency Dropped Calls

February 22, 2016

Below is a guest post by Jessica Hoff, a Business Development Representative for Smart911, who has firsthand experience with the challenges plaguing 9-1-1 centers and first responders.

As I drove home from work yesterday, I heard the faint sound of sirens and saw an ambulance approaching in my rear-view mirror. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, how often do we stop to wonder where that ambulance is going? The first thought that came to mind ... Read More

dbatastini avatar

Radio 101: A Simple Guide to Public Safety Radio Tech

February 18, 2016

I spend my time in the world of software, so when people start talking radio technology my eyes tend to glaze over. But with the discussion developing around FirstNet,  and the rapid deployment of Rave Panic Button across the country, I’ve gotten more involved in the radio side of incident responses and realized I needed a better understanding of some of the key issues and trends impacting public safety radio.  For those of you who are also a bit in the dark about the relationship between bandwidth and spectrum, or the difference between P25, FirstNet, LTE, and 4G here’s a quick overv ... Read More


The Butt Dial Burden

February 11, 2016

Accidental 9-1-1 calls (more colorfully known as “Butt” dials) continue to plague our 9-1-1 system.  This epidemic is everywhere  in the country and is getting worse, wasting tax payer money and increasing the risk of delaying the emergency response to real 9-1-1 calls.

What is a real emergency and what is not?

Fifteen years ago I began my public safety career as a 9-1-1 call taker and like many of us public safety “Lifers” I can remember a time before there was a smartphone in every pocket.

Back then, when someone called 9-1-1 and hung up or ... Read More

Noah Head Shot

An AED Doesn’t Work If It’s Left On The Wall

February 5, 2016

Claire Crawford is a 17 year old high school senior who, thanks to early CPR and an automated external defibrillators (AED), will live to graduate later this year. Fortunately, for her, she collapsed on the volleyball court in the middle of a match at her school, where several staff members trained in CPR and the use of an AED were in attendance, and an AED was hanging on a nearby wall. Watch the video of her collapse and rescue here.

But what if Claire had collapsed elsewhere, such as at ... Read More


Is 9-1-1 Still the Number To Call in an Emergency?

February 4, 2016

Over the past few years, technology has transformed entire industries – from Uber’s rewriting the rules for the ride-for-hire industry, to AirBnb’s impact on the short term rental market, to GPS-based mobile apps that provide directions and nearby restaurant recommendations (putting a huge dent in my duties as my wife’s personal OnStar). This same transformation is coming to emergency communications. The big question is how to reconcile the new communications technologies with robust, proven response processes and protocols. In the end, a key question is if 9-1-1 is still the number ... Read More


Looking Backward and Forward at “Panic Button” Technologies and Requirements

January 27, 2016

The first month of a new year is a natural time to look back at what was learned and look forward to opportunities for applying your hard-won knowledge. Sometimes you change direction, but hopefully you did a few things right over the past year and look to “double-down” on those activities in the coming year.

This year, our retrospective included Rave Panic Button. This is an area of great growth for Rave’s public safety platform. In reviewing our original understanding of the challenges faced by our clients, we feel the guiding principles we established when first developing t ... Read More


What are you overlooking during your emergency notification system evaluation?

January 20, 2016

Over the past few years, Emergency Notification Systems (ENS) have evolved from simple alerting to comprehensive communication systems that integrate phones, mobile devices, email, social media, alarms, and many more communication channels.

ENS now intersect and interact with national weather and emergency systems. They are no longer used for only emergencies. Many institutions leverage emergency notification systems for internal alerting during non- emergency situations. With the latest capabilities, alerts aren’t always blasted out to the entire system. Instead, administrators ca ... Read More


National Stalking Awareness Month

January 11, 2016

Today, there is heavy focus on campus safety, particularly on the threat of active shooters.  In January during National Stalking Awareness Month, we are asked to take a step back and focus on another threat to college students: stalking.

The statistics are shocking. 7.5 million people are stalked each year in the United States. About half of all stalking victims are under the age of 25.

According to a recent Centers for Dise ... Read More


A Look Back: Top 5 Emergency Communications Trends of 2015

December 29, 2015

It’s that time of year when we look back at the past year and forward to the next. To understand where we are going, it’s helpful to look at the road we’ve already traveled. In that spirit, here is a look back at the Top 5 Trends that had the biggest impact on Emergency communications in 2015.

Costly Failures. 9-1-1 needs to work. This message was heard loud and clear by service p ... Read More


WiFi calling to 911: Testing Results and Implications

December 15, 2015

Recently, mobile carriers began enabling Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calling on specific devices, where the device is connected to a Wi-Fi access point. Such VoIP calls are placed from the phone’s native dialer, yet are completed over Wi-Fi rather than the carrier’s traditional mobile phone network. Of the “Big 4” TMobile was an early adopter, followed quickly by Sprint and then ATT and Verizon. Each of the carriers has taken a slightly different route to enabling devices on thei ... Read More


How to Speed up Response to Active Shooters in Higher Ed

December 7, 2015

By their nature, higher education institutions are generally open environments with minimal control over who has access to their facilities and grounds.  In today’s world, that means colleges and universities are forced to address the reality of increased active shooter incidents across the country. The number and frequency of active shooter incidents is increasing, and the amount of time first responders have to respond and impact the event is limited and seems to be decreasing.

The recent FBI study found that 69% of active shooter incidents last less than five minutes. In such a ... Read More


IACP 2015 Insights – Predictions on New Technology Impacts on 911

October 28, 2015

Outside of the very cool armored vehicles and weapons on display, there were some clear technology trends at this year’s International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) show in Chicago and many of them will have a direct impact on 9-1-1 operations in the future. As I’ve stated before, a number of technology trends (NG911, FirstNet, mobile applications, cloud services) will all drive a change in 9-1-1 and dispatch operations as PSAPs become true communications centers and virtual operations centers (you can read more about the cha ... Read More


How Does E911 Work?

September 9, 2015

Over the past few months, I’ve found myself describing how E9-1-1 wireless call routing works. I’ve struggled to find a simple way to describe it. Looking at the ENP study guide didn’t help simplify things any. After searching around, I found a nice description on an obscure page on the Sprint web site. I modified it (hopefully keeping it accurate) to include commonly used acronyms.

I hope this helps those of you who just need a simple overview. For those of you experts out there that have improvements (or corrections!), feel free to comment below. And thanks to Sprint for the ... Read More


Separating Fact from Fiction in Your Public Safety Technology Decisions

June 23, 2015

The public safety market is undergoing a technology transformation unlike any it has ever seen. From public safety broadband networks, to NG911, to smartphones, to wearable cameras and other devices under the Internet of Things (IoT) umbrella, technology is coming to market faster than the operational and regulatory processes can handle it. Along with this technology comes more than a pinch of marketing hype. As companies tr ... Read More

Scott McGrath

Campus Safety Apps Are for Staff and Faculty Too

May 11, 2015

Mobile Safety Apps Help The Entire Campus Community

Mobile safety applications such as Rave Guardian have garnered a lot of attention as tools that help students build a social safety net on campus and provide Public Safety with critical information such as “see something say something” tips and personal information that turbocharges an effective response from responders during a crisis or urgent situati ... Read More


Re-Thinking the Role of Call Taking and Dispatch in a NG9-1-1 World

January 28, 2015

Whether you’ve thought about it as the ability to support text messaging, IP-based call routing, getting additional data on a caller, or something completely different, NG9-1-1 is finally becoming a reality for many jurisdictions. NG9-1-1 is formally defined by NENA as a system comprised of Emergency Services IP networks (ESInets), IP-based Software Services and Applications, Databases and Data Management processes that are interconnected to Public Safety Answering Point premise equipment. It changes the type of “calls” we receive AND provides the ability to enhance the response proce ... Read More


Public-Private Partnerships: Some Considerations

January 20, 2015

There has been a lot of buzz lately around public-private partnerships (PPP). Forums have questions like “we’re considering a public-private partnership, what lessons can you share to help us?” Sometimes these questions are based on a misconstrued perception that a public-private partnership is some form of magical entity or process. The truth is that most agencies are already involved in a number of public-private partnerships, and it’s really more of a question of how effective the partnering aspect of the relationship is and the goals of the partnership. Further, the business mod ... Read More

Scott McGrath

Campus Alerts Are Safety Hygiene

January 15, 2015

I recently asked an emergency manager I know at a large midwestern university about how she made the judgment call on late night alerting for Clery Warnings. Her comment was “well, I get complaints if I do send the message and complaints if I don’t send the message. It seems obvious that since I can’t keep everyone happy, I should err on the side of sending the message.”

It’s a common dilemma, particularly with regard to messages such as Clery warnings where the threat may or may not be universal around the campus community but our institutions are requi ... Read More


10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Smart911

November 4, 2014

Over the years, Smart911 has evolved significantly from when it was first introduced.  Here are some things you probably didn’t know about it:

It is not just about opt-in personal profiles… facility information displays based on the location of the caller, even if the caller did not register and can include floor plans, emergency response plans, etc. As an additional data gateway, it has been deployed on both IP and legacy networks on all major types of call taking and CAD combinations, and serv ... Read More

PSAP Survey Results: Internet, Device and Social Media Policies

October 22, 2014

This is the sixth post on results from Rave’s 2013 PSAP Survey to which 610 PSAPs from 50 states responded.  This post covers polices around social media and internet access.  See the fifth post here on NG9-1-1 implementation statuses.

Q1: Is Internet access provided at each Telecommunicator workstation? For example, can a Telecommunicator access a web browser and perform a basic task, such as running a search in Google, Bing, or another search engine?

Read More