Are You Leveraging “All Clear” After Action Messages?

Recommendation: Take advantage of “All Clear” messages sent after a critical event to provide additional information, safety reminders, and community building safety messages.

I’ve noticed that many emergency notifications public safety sends focus on short, concise, clear instructions following a typical pattern of the emergency life cycle:

  • Problem onset notification
  • Updates as necessary
  • “All Clear” message during recovery phase of an incident.

It’s worth taking a little extra time to educate and inform as you send your “All Clear” messages.

Many of our Rave Alert customers, as a best practice, have public safety initiate critical communications at the start of an incident. Public Safety, rather than a PIO, issue the first warning, is the fastest, most efficient origin for timely communications of serious events — especially when conditions may be rapidly changing.

chatEmergency messages at the onset of situation are best left short and to the point — especially when an action is required where “doing” is more important than “reading.”  Emphasizing “action required” instructions during a critical event – e.g., “Shelter in place” – is an obvious best practice when crafting messages and message templates. If you want someone to do something specific in response to your message, say that first.

We trade precision and completeness for urgency in these types of messages to provide actionable information rapidly and effectively.

At the end of a critical event, an “All Clear” type message closes the case for the community. Many, if not most, of your message recipients do not have the same “inside knowledge” of events as your responders and key personnel. It’s worth remembering that short authoritative command-oriented notifications, right at the time they’re issued, often leave the recipient in a state of suspense.

So, that same, effective short form communication will almost certainly leave a significant number of recipients unclear, curious, and potentially anxious about events happening around them.

As a best practice, this is an opportunity to clarify and communicate information left out of earlier communications. You can also send reminders and safety tips relevant to the situation.

To prepare for this, I suggest two primary techniques:

text-on-paper-sheet-sketch1. Be prepared.
Write template language that provides a foundation for an effective “All Clear” statement, and possibly “footer” material to add reminders about key safety practices that apply to your community. For example:

  • Reminders to update contact information with links to your portals
  • Suggested content available on your Public Safety FAQ pages
  • Recommended actions to take for self-protection,
  • Suggestions on what to report to your safety responder tip hotlines

All are solid subject matter for a standard email template provided with an “All Clear” report.

2. Customize, assure and explain.
Involve your PIO and key communications staff to craft the right messages once the time-critical phase of your event is over. If a significant law enforcement, emergency, or facilities issue has generated messages and warnings, carefully explain relevant information about the nature of the event as well as a positive summation of the response and resolution of the incident.

speech-bubblesMessages surrounding critical events impact individuals in your communities and campuses. They also often attract media attention. This is where well written messaging written  by skilled communicators builds trust with your community, presents clear information to quell rumors and misconceptions, and gives you an opportunity to educate the community about the role everyone plays in overall public safety.

Plan in advance and build a process that gets the correct staff involved in communications. Obvious advice perhaps, but in the heat of a crisis or critical situation, every responder needs to be aware of your processes and key staff who are on call to assist safety responders with clear messaging.

Remember, taking advantage of post-event communication opportunities helps provide additional information to your community and helps you issue important safety reminders and messages.


Denver Announces Enhanced Emergency Response Tools

 DENVER – Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Executive Director of Public Safety Stephanie Y. O’Malley, and Denver 911 Director Athena Butler today announced Denver’s new toolbox for enhanced emergency response – 911NOW.

911NOW includes three key tools – Smart911, Swift911, and Text to 911 – that will help residents get the assistance and information they need now.

Last year alone, Denver 911 received over 1 million calls for service, a 10% increase from the year before, so we must also enhance our response system to meet our residents’ needs in a meaningful way, and that is what 911NOW aims to do.” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “Bringing new innovation to our emergency response system means giving residents the information and service they need now, allowing them to better serve the residents of Denver.”

The first 911NOW tool – Smart911 – is a private, secure service that allows residents to create a safety profile that provides 911 and emergency responders with important information residents want them to know to assist with an emergency. The information in the profile automatically displays on the 911 call taker’s screen when a call is placed from a phone number connected to the profile and can assist in a number of situations including:

  • When the address or location is unknown. Over 90% of calls made to Denver 911 come from mobile phones, and while they can be an important public safety tool, mobile phones can also create unique challenges for emergency responders. When calls to 911 are placed from a mobile phone, the call taker has very little information – only the phone number and a very general sense of the caller’s location. The Smart911 profile links resident’s mobile phone numbers to their home, work, and school addresses, arming emergency responders with information about who is calling and possible locations where they may be found.
  • When the caller cannot communicate. There are times when residents may not be able to communicate due to an allergic reaction, heart attack, or home invasion. The Smart911 profile ensures residents’ information is immediately available and that the caller is not the sole source of information. If a member of a household is deaf or hard of hearing, or English is not their primary language, dispatchers will also know immediately that an alternate form of communication is needed.
  • When there is a medical emergency. The Smart911 profile provides emergency responders with important information about household members including medical conditions, physical disabilities, allergies, and medications that may cause dangerous drug interactions during treatment. Knowing this information in advance allows first responders to know how to help before they even arrive.
  • When a member of a household goes missing. Residents can add key information about members of their household including their names, ages, a physical description, and recent photos. They can also list who should be contacted in the event of an emergency, including family members, friends and neighbors.
  • When there is a fire. Gate codes, access points, floor layouts, and other visual details that may be obstructed when a household is on fire can be added to the profile to help facilitate a faster response or rescue.
  • When a vehicular accident occurs. Residents can upload vehicle information for all members of their household to the Smart 911 profile. Having the description and license plate of household vehicles can quicken response in an accident, or when residents need help while in their vehicle.

“The details residents provide in their Smart911 profile can save seconds or even minutes during an emergency,” said Denver 911 Director Athena Butler. “That saved time can make a big difference when the caller cannot communicate or when the address or location where help is needed is unknown.”

The second 911NOW tool – Swift911 – is Denver’s high-speed emergency notification system that alerts residents to emergency situations in their neighborhood like police activity, evacuations, and severe storm warnings in real time. Residents decide how they want to receive these alerts – via phone, mobile phone, email, text message, or a combination of each – and multiple phone numbers for multiple members of a household can be included for each residency.

Swift 911 alerts are sent to all land line telephone numbers in Denver that are publicly listed, but residents must sign up to receive alerts for private land line numbers and for alerts they want to receive via mobile phones, email, or text. Once residents register for Swift 911 at, they can log in at any time to update their contact information or opt out from the notification list.

Denver 911 will utilize Swift911 in coordination with first responders to alert residences to take the proper action during emergency situations.

“Members of our community need to be alerted to emergencies in their neighborhoods as they are happening,” said Executive Director of Public Safety Stephanie Y. O’Malley. “Many of our residents communicate via mobile phone or text, making it imperative that they sign up for this service and get the information they need to keep themselves, and those they care for, safe.”

The final 911NOW tool – Text to 911 – supports residents who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired. It can also be used when residents are:

  • Unable to speak as a result of an injury or medical emergency
  • Facing a threatening situation where a voice call could increase the threat or compromise safety
  • In an area where a text message is the only option to request emergency services due to limited coverage
  • In an area where phone lines and cell towers are overwhelmed and only a text can get through to request emergency services

Together, these three tools will help Denver’s first responders – Save time. Save lives. To learn more visit



Many Local Dispatch Centers Working to Get 911 Texting

WEST OLIVE/IONIA, Mich. (WOOD) — More dispatch centers across the United States, including some in West Michigan, are looking at implementing text-to-911 services.

The increased interest in text-to-911 comes in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre that left 49 people dead. Many people in the club texted family and friends to call 911 because they couldn’t, and there was no option to text dispatch. Ottawa County, along with Kent, Allegan and Van Buren counties, have told the state they are actively working to implement text-to-911.

“We’ve been looking at implementing texting for a little while now, some other folks in the state and throughout the country have implemented it. We do have it on our radar screen to have it in by the end of the year,” said Tim Smith, the executive director of Ottawa County Central Dispatch.

Out of the more than 6,000 dispatch centers nationwide, a little more than 650 can accept text messages.

text to 911 map
Map shows where text-to-911 is available across the state.

While Ottawa County doesn’t have text-to-911 yet, for more than two years they have had Smart911 which allows people to build a profile that dispatchers can see when you call in. It also gives dispatchers the ability to text out to you.

“What we have found in several situations is during a domestic situation is somebody will call and they will hang-up because they are under immediate threat and they can’t talk but they are able to text,” Smith said.

Ionia County has had text-to-911 for about a year, allowing people in need of help to text in versus calling.

“The dispatcher immediately will want to know their specific location because with the system we have no means to locate that particular cell phone,” said Jim Valentine, the director of Ionia County Central Dispatch.

Valentine said the text-to-911 has worked well in his county.

“Recently we had a domestic violence encounter where the lady was unable to call, she was afraid to call, frantically texting us and she was able to receive police response immediately because of that,” said Valentine.

He also supports more dispatch centers adding the service as well.

“There are situations with either texting system that can be very beneficial if someone is in grave danger,” Valentine said.

Even with the ability to text, authorities prefer you call 911 over texting if you can because dispatchers can get more information quickly.

“The tagline is: Call if you can, text if you can’t.”

On Tuesday, 911 dispatcher Riley McKillen from the Ottawa County Central Dispatch is being recognized for her outstanding efforts to aid a citizen in need using Smart911.

Last month McKillen received a 911 call that was quickly disconnected. After an attempt to call back that went unanswered, McKillen initiated a text conversation using the ‘Chat’ feature of Smart 911. The caller quickly responded to McKillen’s text stating that she had been assaulted in her home, and the male aggressor was still on the premises.

Through text, McKillen was able collect information from the caller, such as where she was located and important details about the scene that were relayed to responding officers.

The conversation via Smart911Chat continued until the officers arrived at the residence. Police quickly arrested the male subject who is being charged for domestic assault and battery.


By: Tom Hillen


Michigan PSAP Realizes Benefits from Rave Mobile Safety Two-way 911 Text Solution

Two-way text-messaging functionality from Rave Mobile Safety’s Smart911 platform is helping public-safety answering points (PSAP) address the growing issue of abandoned emergency calls with greater efficiency and effectiveness, according to a Michigan dispatcher.

Ryan Culver, dispatcher for the Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority in Ottawa County, Mich., said he uses Rave Mobile Safety’s Smart911Chat to connect with any mobile-phone users who have abandoned their emergency call—something that can happen with an accidental misdial or a pocket dial (known by many as a “butt dial”).

“I probably use the Smart911 text feature as much as 15 times per day, with all of those abandoned calls,” Culver said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “It’s in our policy now that we send a text message back, if they do not answer a phone call.

“To be honest, the majority of the replies I get back are, ‘This was an accidental dial. Thank you for responding back. Have a good day.’”

But about 3% of the time, the follow-up text communications have resulted in responses during situations in which the emergency caller was unable to speak—a situation that is common during domestic-violence incidents, Culver said. In one case, Culver received a 911 call from a woman, but a male suspect took the device from her and threw it in the toilet.

“Unfortunately, I had nothing on that phone number, so I could not get a Phase II [caller location] on it,” Culver said. “I tried calling it back, but due to the water damage, the phone was not working properly. I ended up sending a text message. Thankfully, she pulled the phone out [of the toilet] in time, so that texting feature on her phone was still able to work. So, I was not able to communicate with her over the phone orally, but I was able to get the address, situation, names, weapons—everything—through the texting feature.

“It did wonders. We were able to get someone over there in time, and it had a positive result. We’ve had many incidents like that.”

Culver cited another incident in which an emergency caller had a diabetic reaction and was unable to speak. However, by utilizing the text-message capability, the emergency caller was able to communicate and provide the information necessary for Culver to dispatch help.

In another case, the Smart911Chat two-way text solution was used to peacefully resolve a situation in which a man armed with a gun was believed to be considering suicide, according to his wife who had fled the area, Culver said.

“We called him multiple times, and he did not answer,” Culver said. “But he felt he was able to communicate through text message, and he did. Eventually, we were able to get on the phone with him. But, if it wasn’t for that text-messaging feature, we never would have never initiated a conversation; we never would have been able to build a rapport.

“Fortunately, that situation ended positively. We were able to get him to drop his weapon, and everything ended peacefully. But if it wasn’t for that Smart911 feature, we never would have been able to build up that rapport or even initiate a conversation with him.”

Even when the text functionality does not result in a response—as in the case of a pocket dial—the Smart911Chat communication is beneficial to public safety, according to Todd Miller, Rave Mobile Safety’s vice president of public safety.

“Those pocket dials cost money,” Miller said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “If an individual doesn’t respond to a call back, and you don’t have something like Smart911 chat, Ottawa County is going to send an officer, if they have a location.

“In the end, Ottawa County estimates that each one of those unnecessary dispatches costs them about $23—when they look at the officer’s time, time spent from the call-taking side—and that adds up pretty quickly. Those dollars really mean something, especially when all communities are looking at ways to be more efficient and more effective in their public-safety offerings.”

In addition to the financial savings, the Smart911Chat feature that allow pocket-dial callers to dismiss an accidental 911 call can result in better use of precious public-safety personnel, Miller said.

“In many jurisdictions, on an abandoned call, the policy today is, ‘Let’s call them back,’” he said. “Of course, that call comes from a 10-digit number, and people don’t answer the call. Then, protocols in many portions of the country are, if we can’t reach the citizen, let’s send an officer.

“So, with abandoned calls, not only are dispatch centers spending extra time trying to reach these callers that don’t respond, but we’re also wasting valuable first-responder resources—we’re potentially taking them from one location where they are needed to a location where they are not needed, simply because there was a pocket dial.”

Miller said there are many text-to-911 solutions that allow PSAPs to receive emergency texts from citizens, but the Rave Mobile Safety system is the only one that lets PSAP personnel to send an initial text message to a citizen without the citizen needing to download a special application.

“Once the member of the community has elected to proactively text into 911, then 911 can have that two-way conversation [with other text-to-911 solutions],” he said. “But the key piece that is really lacking is putting that power under the control of the PSAPs.

“The PSAPs really need the ability—on their side—to start that two-way conversation, and that’s the biggest difference … Current standards do not address texting the way that Smart911 handles it. Current standards really are focused on that inbound [text] from the citizens.”

Miller also noted that information from text messaging can improve officer safety, particularly when responding to an abandoned call associated with a domestic-abuse incident.

“Domestic-violence situations are some of the most dangerous situations that we can send our officer into,” Miller said. “So, rather than sending one officer with no knowledge of what the call may be about, these agencies are able to have better situational awareness.

“They’re able to recognize that this is a call that requires a different type of response. They can say, ‘Let’s not send one officer with no information; let’s send two [officers], with the knowledge that this is a domestic-violence situation.”

Culver said he believes that Smart911Chat is intuitive for a telecommunicator to use.

“It literally takes me only 5 to 10 seconds to generate a text message to reply back to the caller—it is very user-friendly and easy to use, and it does not take up a lot of time,” Culver said. “So, the second I send that 911 text and I don’t have an exact location—so I can’t send an officer—I can go onto the next call and keep that [text exchange] open. So, when he or she [the emergency texter] does eventually reply back, I can then start working with the call. Until then, I can start working on something else.

“So, it doesn’t take long to use. I can initiate a text really quickly and move on to something else, if I have to. And that’s really important, because it’s got to be quick and easy to use. It’s a very user-friendly program.”

For more information: click here

The Symbiotic relationship between Incident Management and Emergency Notification Systems

Incident or crisis management solutions provide users a powerful way to manage information, tasks, and statuses during an incident.  Effective solutions work in both planned and unplanned incidents to ensure everyone is on the same page and have both a common understanding of what steps should be taken as well as a common operational picture of the current state of affairs.  But how do these systems interact with emergency notification systems?  Rave Mobile Safety recently announced an integration with WebEOC, the leading crisis management system and a product of Intermedix.  The combination of these best of breed solutions demonstrates how incident management and mass notification systems work together to improve the ability of agencies to mitigate, prevent, prepare, respond and recover.

Phases of Emergency ManagementMitigate risk through a common view of prevention, preparation, response and recovery processes.  Risk management is about identifying procedures to minimize the impact of an incident.  While no system can codify every potential scenario that might occur in the “fog of war”, the reality is that prior preparation greatly reduces risk.  How do you prepare?  You identify key scenarios, responsible parties, action plans, and communication processes.  When done correctly these tasks and scenarios are malleable enough to handle the majority of situations chaos can throw at you.  Crisis management solutions allow you to define and track all these different process and scenarios.  An emergency notification solution allows you to deliver targeted, timely messages across multiple modes of communication to each person or group that needs to be involved in the incident.

Enhance operational effectiveness by providing real-time visibility into operational workflow statuses and communication processes. When fully integrated to the crisis management solution, responses to messages delivered by the notification system can be automatically fed back into the appropriate tasks and work flows in the crisis management system based on users and their responses.  This reduces the time consuming and error prone, manual, back and forth coordination all too common in most incidents.

Enable real-time collaboration and communication across all constituents.  Depending the incident, the constituents involved in the response process may be a small internal team, or a large community.  Each of these groups have different information needs and preferred modes of communication.  A team manning an operational Emergency operations center may be best reached via email and a dynamic task list within an application they are using.  A remote response team may be best reached via text message.  A large community may be best reached via social media and broadcast channels like FEMA’s IPAWS / Wireless Emergency Alerts.  For each of these groups of recipients, the content is different. The instructions provided to a response team of trained professionals is very different than a general evacuation notice sent to an entire flood plain region.  A crisis management system and emergency notification system combine to make sure the right message is delivered to the right person at the right time.

Correctly document actions taken.  During the heat of a major event, you need to focus on the response.  Unfortunately, we often forget to properly document steps taken.  This documentation is needed for compliance reporting (e.g. Clery Reports for Higher Education), funding reimbursements, and other internal and external compliance requirements.  An integrated crisis management and emergency notification system simplifies the reporting process and ensure each action is documented and captured throughout the incident.

Together Rave Alert and WebEOC provide a powerful platform for end-to-end incident response management and communication.  We are excited about the roadmap further integrating the two products and providing joint clients with a solution that greatly improves incident planning and responses – from planned sporting events, to the unplanned disasters that hit our communities.

Intermedix & Rave Mobile Safety Develop Partnership

Intermedix and Rave Mobile Safety develop partnership to expand support for shared clients

NASHVILLE, Tenn. and FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (June 28, 2016) – IntermediPartnership_Intermedixx and Rave Mobile Safety announced Tuesday a new partnership integrating the companies’ emergency alert and crisis information management platforms.

“Connectivity and interoperability are key components of effective emergency response,” said Intermedix CEO Joel Portice. “The integration of WebEOC and Rave Alert is yet another example of our commitment to provide emergency preparedness personnel with the tools they need when they need them the most.”


WebEOC is the industry leader in web-based crisis management software used by more than 600 government agencies in the United States and more than 25 countries around the world. Built to support the mission of crisis management, public safety and emergency response personnel, WebEOC has evolved to provide simplified information access promoting intelligent incident response and business resiliency.

Rave Alert emergency notification system enables thousands of educational institutions, enterprises, and state and local governments to communicate with and alert entire populations in minutes. Rave Alert utilizes all available methods (mobile phones, landlines, email, text messages, IPAWS-OPEN) to quickly and easily deliver critical information. Built on Rave’s public safety grade infrastructure, Rave Alert delivers millions of alerts daily to the right people, before, during and after emergencies

The Rave Alert Extension for WebEOC will connect the mass notification solution to the crisis management software. Through the integration, multimodal broadcast alerts can be sent from within WebEOC, and incident creation processes can be initiated within Rave Alert.

 “Our goal is to provide the emergency response community with the most effective way to communicate with their constituents,” said Rave Mobile Safety CEO Tom Axbey. “This integration is key component of enhancing resilience and providing emergency responders with a common operating picture.”


Demonstrations of the extension will be available for attendees of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators’ Annual Conference & Exposition from June 24 to June 28, as well as for attendees of the 2016 National Homeland Security Conference from June 28 to June 30.

About Intermedix          

Intermedix delivers technology-enabled services and SaaS solutions to health care providers, government agencies and corporations. The company utilizes data analytics to support approximately 15,000 health care providers with practice management and revenue cycle management services. Intermedix connects more than 95 percent of the U.S. with population management technologies. To learn more visit

When is a “Dispatchable Location” Really Dispatchable?

Two weeks ago at NENA National I co-chaired a speaking session with Brooks Shannon of Geo-Comm. The title of this session was “The Next Frontier for GIS: Indoors”. While we discussed several topics, I think one of the timeliest aspects was the state of “Dispatchable Location”.

I expect any seasoned 9-1-1 dispatcher or first responder knows when a set of location information is (or is not) dispatch-quality. They can make this judgement based on experience and local knowledge. However I am not aware of any attempt to formally define “Dispatchable Location” prior to the FCC’s 4th Report and Order of January 29, 2015. In summary, they define Dispatchable Location as:

“… the verified or corroborated street address … plus additional information such as floor, suite, apartment or similar … to adequately identify the location of the calling party.”

It makes sense that the FCC would settle on this definition – especially when so many 9-1-1 location accuracy comments sound like “Most of my center’s 9-1-1 calls are initiated by mobile phones and the location data is often not good enough to find the caller. Things were so much easier when all calls came from landlines; at least they came with an address.”

Is civic address alone good enough? To explore this, let take the location of the NENA National Conference as an example. If a 9-1-1 call were placed from a landline on the show floor, it should be accompanied by ALI (automatic location information) in the form of an address. It would probably be similar to the following:

100 S. Capitol Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46225

Seems dispatchable, right? Most certainly if you are a member of Indianapolis Police, Fire or EMS – but why? Because local responders can consume this location information, compare it to a reference map, and navigate to the incident. For a common address in the city center, local knowledge (or “the map in the responders head”) may get them there. However, when I made my way to the show I needed the map on my phone (my reference) to “dispatch myself” to the show floor. This problem is even more apparent if your location information is a described via latitude/longitude:

Example of Current Civic and Geodetic 9-1-1 Location Information
Example of Current Civic and Geodetic 9-1-1 Location Information

Perhaps a “verified or corroborated street address” only gets you half-way to the Dispatchable Address goal. The second half of the solution requires an equally verified and corroborated map to make sense of a civic or geodetic location.

Today, nearly everyone has a highly detailed map in their pocket, so what is the big deal? Problem solved!

I’d agree if the FCC’s order simply required the industry bring wireless location precision to 1980’s E9-1-1 ALI address standards. However, that is not the case. Both the Dispatchable Location definition (by including reference to floor, suite, apartment, or similar) and more stringent location accuracy requirements (calling for < 50 meter precision and an accompanying altitude component) reaches beyond simply getting the responder “to the front door”, especially in larger facilities.

Using this definition, let’s move our example into the near future. Imagine someone dialing 9-1-1 during our presentation (dying of boredom, perhaps?), and their location is provided by the currently-under-development National Emergency Address Database (NEAD). The NEAD is expected to provide a more detailed civic address for emergency calls, which may look like something like:

Example of 9-1-1 Dispatchable Location per the FCC’s Definition
Example of 9-1-1 Dispatchable Location per the FCC’s Definition

While this example is fairly simple, you can imagine not being able find a “dispatchable address” within a complex facility without the benefit of a corresponding indoor map. Consequently, even if calls are accompanied by a civic address meeting the FCC’s definition of Dispatchable Location, reliably getting responders to an indoor emergency caller will require maps keep pace with improvement in location information.

Over the past year, much emphasis has been put on Dispatchable Location and NEAD. This is a commendable effort, and prioritizing improvements in location information over improvements in maps is the right thing to do. However the goal of delivering a dispatchable Location with every call won’t be complete until we have corresponding mapping improvements (a fact that is not lost on the FCC).

Building out these improved maps will involve overcoming a unique set of challenges. That is something I will cover in my next blog post. I fear if I don’t stop typing now, I risk boring you to death!

County EMA Makes Change to New Weather Warning System

NEWARK – Licking County residents will no longer be inundated with weather warnings like they were Wednesday, according to Sean Grady, director of Licking County Emergency Management Agency and the Regional 911 Center.

Grady announced on Monday a change to the Rave Mass Notification System, which started here March 6. The new policy will be to automatically send out National Weather Service notifications only for tornado warnings.

“Only landlines and subscribed cell phones will get calls from these warnings if they happen to be inside the NWS warning box,” Grady stated in an email. “We decided to limit the amount and type of warnings being sent based on some feedback from residents who experienced the multiple calls during the storm last Wednesday night.”

The National Weather Service sent out severe thunderstorm warnings and flash flood warnings lasting one hour or less, Grady said. Once the warnings expired, they were repeated, and Rave recipients received new warnings.

“We decided to limit this because I do not want people becoming desensitized to them,” Grady said. ” Other warnings that are sent out by NWS will be vetted by our office before being sent out to the public to make sure that there is a significant risk involved.”

Grady or his deputy, John Wieber, will determine when to send notifications covering a wide range of other possible events, such as floods, flash floods, extreme heat, blizzards, extreme cold, severe thunderstorms, hail and earthquakes.

Residents who signed up to receive Rave emergency alerts can choose how they want to be notified of a warning, such as by text, email, cellphone or landline.

People who sign up for Rave can provide information for emergency responders to use if coming to their aid. They can choose what information to provide, such as listing family members, photos, medical conditions, disabilities, mobility limitations, other special needs, medical equipment requiring electricity, exact addresses, or pets.

To sign up for the notifications, go to and click on Emergency/Disaster Mobile Alert Sign Up or go to


NG911 Lessons Learned from the Flint Water Crisis

The Flint MI water crisis coming to light over the past year has captured the attention and fears of the nation.  For me, it has also brought to mind an analogy directly related to the move toward FirstNet and NG911 and even the work being done to improve FEMA‘s Integrated Public Alert Warning System (IPAWS / WEA).  The pipes in Flint continued to be able to pump water throughout the crisis.  The pressure was fine. When you turned on a spout, water flowed out.  The problem was with the usefulness of the liquid.

NG9-1-1 aims to create new system for handling calls for service.  It promises to enable new forms of communication, better routing and transferring of emergency calls, and even allowing data to augment call handling and dispatching effectiveness.  FirstNet aims to create a dedicated public safety broadband network, providing responders with the ability to access critical data and applications with the quality of service needed for public safety operations.  The latest work being done on the IPAWs alerting system, looks to improve the targeting granularity of cell broadcast technology while also investigating how the permission to send alerts can be further delegated down to a broader set of authorized users.

NG911 and FirstNet Need Useful Content

Each of these public safety initiatives are really about the pipes to deliver content.  Once those pipes are established, we need to look at what fills them.  Much like the tainted water in Flint was useless, the public safety applications built upon these new pipes are only as good as what flows through them.  From the increased risk of call spoofing or denial of service attacks on IP-based NG91-1- networks, to the challenges in interpreting new forms of content like video or cryptic text messages, making sure what is in the pipes is clean and usable is key.  In FirstNet, as we look at public safety applications for navigating through buildings indoors we need to think about how we collect and keep floor plans up to date.  While FirstNet may provide live biometric updates on fire fighters in a building, not being able to correctly find and get to them in an emergency makes the fact you know they collapsed nearly useless. For WEA alerts, the context and action-ability of the message is key.  From years of experience delivering over a billion emergency messages, I’ve seen numerous times how a poorly worded or confusing message can cause more damage than good.

From personal medical data, to up-to-date building floor plans and emergency contact data to a platform for easily distributing content across many different pipes, we are working to ensure you have the public-safety grade data and communication capabilities that can be the difference between life and death.  NG911 and FirstNet afford the opportunity to radically transform the interaction between responders, PSAPs and those that they protect with a series of layered, secure services.  As we budget for billions of dollars in putting in new pipes, we not only put in robust pipes but also make sure we have usable content flowing through them.

Montgomery County To Be First In State To Adopt New 911 System

Montgomery County to be first in state to adopt new 911 system

Montgomery County officials hosted presentations on the new 911 system in April and May.

Montgomery County will be the first in Texas to adopt Smart911, a service that provides medical, family member and location information directly to first responders when a registered individual calls 911 so that an emergency response can arrive more quickly.

Smart911, provided by Rave Mobile Safety, is already available to Montgomery County residents, although a formal launch is not planned until early July, said Chip VanSteenberg, executive director of the Montgomery County Emergency Communication District.

VanSteenberg presented the emergency communication updates across the county throughout April and May. He said 155 Smart911 profiles had already been created in Montgomery County as of May 24.

When an individual creates a profile at, information regarding the individual’s addresses, family members and medical history is stored in a secure database for call takers to access when the individual calls 911. VanSteenberg said with Smart911, call takers will know more information about the caller to make the response quicker.

“We believe it will save time and make for a more efficient response when in an emergency,” VanSteenberg said.

Additionally, call takers can initiate a text message session if there is a bad connection.

The MCECD has also adopted Smart911Facility, a similar service designed for businesses, schools and other large facilities to protect employees and visitors. If an individual calls 911 from within a registered facility, first responders are able to look at information about the facility before they arrive.

Although Smart911 is a national service, it is not yet transferable between areas using a different service provider like Harris County. VanSteenberg said he suggests people who live in one county and work in another set up a profile for both 911 response services. Harris County’s service is available at

Texting a 911 call taker is expected to be an option for Montgomery County residents soon. VanSteenberg said call takers should be able to receive emergency text messages by early 2017. Harris County already has the texting capability.

VanSteenberg said although calling 911 is preferred, texting can be helpful in some situations where an individual cannot hear or speak.

“Call if you can, text if you can’t,” he said.

Public Safety Works Hard To Ensure Student Safety

Parents who are getting ready to see their young leave for Indiana State next fall will have some basic concerns for the safety of their children.

Those parents should be relieved to know, that over the course of the past few years, ISU has implemented tools and procedures equipped with the ability to allow students to communicate University police stationpossible emergencies no matter their location on campus.

Whether it is the Blue Light emergency phone system, the Rave Guardian app, silent witness reporting, or even personal self-defense items, students of ISU have multiple resources at their disposal in order to ensure their own personal safety.

The Rave Guardian app itself specifically permits students to send alerts by managing a “safety timer” which allows students to share their location with trusted individuals when “meeting with someone you don’t know or any other time you would like someone to check in with you,” as stated on the university police website.

This feature can be utilized by both ISU students and parents as a way to stay connected while living apart, or even as a means to make an emergency phone call if needed.

According to Assistant Chief of Police Michele Barrett, “The Rave Guardian app has 365 users, one new registration within the past 30 days, one guardian panic call in past three months, and seven guardian timer sessions in past three months.”

Students who have witnessed a crime can get in contact with the university police by using the silent witness reporting hub which is available through Indiana State University website.

This resource makes it possible for individuals to “… submit reports of suspicious or criminal activity anonymously.”

Those who choose to engage the silent witness reporting hub have the ability to enter personal information such as, name, email and phone number, but are not required to do so.

Currently the Rave Guardian application is the preferred method of reporting a crime that has either happened or is in progress, as the silent witness hub is more of a tool to share information with police.

“If a crime or incident is occurring at that moment, students should use the Rave Guardian app or call our dispatch center,” Barrett said. “The silent witness system is not monitored 24/7, therefore if an incident is in progress it should be reported by another means so that officers can be dispatched immediately.”

Students who feel threatened while on campus also have another way of getting in contact with university police should they not have the ability to use Rave Guardian.

The blue light emergency phone system provides ISU students with a way to immediately contact campus officials by pressing the emergency button.

The phones act as an emergency system, that can be used “for anything you would even use your telephone for,” said University Chief of Police Joseph Newport.

“If you saw somebody injured, or you got somebody that’s coming after you and you don’t feel comfortable or they made you feel unsafe, I would definitely use the emergency button,” Newport said.

For any non-threating situations, or to simply ask a question, the blue light system contains an “information” button which can connect students to those that can help.

The best way to ensure that a crime is reported correctly is to merely contact university police directly through phone or in person.

Even with the multiple resources available to students, university police recommends this approach to those who have information on a crime, or the need to report one.

For more: click here

Bronco Emergency Alerts Help Protect Students & Faculty

BOISE – Six On Your Side first told about the report of a sexual assault on the outskirts of Boise State University on Sunday. After a composite sketch was released this week, a man was arrested Thursday in connection with the reported assault. And, thanks to security measures in place on campus, students can opt to receive emergency alerts via text messaging. Campus-wide emergency notifications are sent out through e-mails and texts.

However, emergency managers say receiving the timely notifications through texts are most reliable. Everyone who has a BSU e-mail account is signed up to receive them but you have to opt in to get the alerts on your phone. Lexis Taylor will be a senior come fall. She appreciates the text alerts and takes precautions accordingly.

“I never walk around campus alone at night,” she said. “And, if I do I make sure that I have someone on the phone.”

Even with the recent report of a sexual assault on the outskirts of campus, Taylor hasn’t let it have too much of an effect on her daily routine. “I live on campus during the school year, and I think it’s very safe,” Taylor said. “I feel very safe walking around and the Bronco alerts are always helpful to know what’s going on.”

Alerts also ring through to desk phones on campus. Other security measures include the emergency blue light phones on campus where you can push a button to call 9-1-1 and the opportunity to request an escort by contacting the BSU Communications Center by dialing 208-426-6911.

The notifications are sent out when there is a threat to lives or property. While the student opt in rate to receive emergency alert texts are up to about a 75 percent student rate, the emergency manager would like to see that rate bump up to 100 percent.

“We have a commitment to safety on campus for our students, faculty and staff,” said Rob Littrell. “So, it’s our way of letting the campus know something is going on so they can take actions to keep themselves safe.”

There’s also an “app” that students and faculty can download for free that includes a panic button. For more information visit

Students are encouraged to sign up for the text alerts through the campus database system.


For more.

The Rave Guardian App Is Watching Over Clemson

CLEMSON – There’s a new phone application that can help Clemson University students and employees stay safe.

The smartphone app, Rave Guardian, has several safety features, including a safety timer that can alert a “guardian” if the user hasn’t arrived at a destination as expected.

Here’s how it works: The user can enter a destination – their parked car or a campus building, for instance – and the estimated time it will take to reach it. The user gets two notifications to turn off the timer before the time is up. If they haven’t turned it off before the time expires, their guardian receives a message alerting them so they can call the user or police.

Users can choose a friend or family member to be their guardian, or they can choose Clemson University police. This feature is useful for those who are walking alone, especially at night or in an unfamiliar area.

The free app also has a button that lets the user dials 911 with one click. Like the blue light emergency phones on campus, it shows police dispatchers the caller’s location.

Users also can use their phones to send anonymous crime tips to police in text messages or pictures. If they see someone committing a crime, they can take a photo and send it with the location of the incident.

“I think Clemson University is moving forward,” Chief Eric Hendricks said. “We’re going to continue down this path and we’re going to stay with technology… to keep Clemson a safe, secure learning environment. That’s our intention.”

The app works off-campus as well.

For more information, see the FAQs.

Rave Guardian is available for download on iTunes and on Google Play for Androids. Subscribers must use a Clemson email address to log in.


By: Maggie Masterson, Class of 2017

Smart911 Helps Alpharetta’s Emergency Response

The Alpharetta Department of Public Safety is encouraging all residents to sign up for the free service.

girl-with-iphone-6-in-sunlights-picjumbo-comALPHARETTA, GA — The Alpharetta Department of Public Safety is urging citizens to utilize a free tool designed to help emergency personnel come to your aid in an efficient manner.

Smart911 stores valuable information in Alpharetta’s emergency response databases so that responders can find you more quickly, and have crucial details that will help provide a faster response, the city said.

 Residents can create a free safety profile for all the phones in their households by visiting the Smart911 website. When a residents makes an emergency call, the safety profile will be seen by 911 call takers.

Profile details can include names and photos of all family members, medical conditions, allergies, pets and emergency contacts. This profile also provides a way for residents to include information that will enhance disaster response such as power needs for medical equipment, evacuation assistance and sheltering needs.

In the event of a natural disaster, public safety officials will be able to quickly determine from the data you have provided which residents may need specific assistance.

This profile can be modified or updated at any time. Smart911 also provides the capability to conduct mass emergency alerting call-outs, allowing residents to opt-in to receive emergency alerts from public safety officials based on geographic locations of events. These mass notifications can be sent through various means of communications such as phone, text or e-mail.

Smart 911 is a voluntary program, and the city of Alpharetta is strongly urging all residents to visit today to securely create their unique profile. The information that you provide can be viewed only by you and emergency dispatchers, and will never be used for any purpose other than emergency response.

Image via Shutterstock

By: Kristal Dixon (Patch Staff)


GeoComm and Rave Mobile Safety Partner

GeoComm Will Integrate Rave Mobile Safety’s Smart911Facility Into Its 9-1-1 GIS Solution to Enable Public Safety Agencies to Easily Collect, Manage and Access Indoor Information


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., June 13, 2016  – From the National Emergency Number Association’s (NENA) 2016 annual conference, GeoComm, a leading provider of geographic information and communication systems, and Rave Mobile Safety (Rave), the trusted creator of innovative public safety data and communication software, today announced a partnership that will create a first-of-its-kind software solution for enhancing indoor location information. The integrated offering will enable public safety agencies to more easily source, validate and utilize critical facilities information in a NG9-1-1 compliant format.

To date, time consuming, manual processes have limited the ability of public safety agencies to effectively gather and access information about the large number of facilities in their jurisdictions. Floor plans, alarm data, key holder information and other data, if collected at all, are not kept up-to-date and rarely make it into the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) or field responders.

“We are proud to work with a respected GIS leader like GeoComm on this solution,” said Todd Piett, chief product officer at Rave Mobile Safety. “While supporting thousands of agencies we’ve seen time and time again how valuable contextual information can be when provided to the call taker, dispatcher and first responders. By simplifying the process of collecting and delivering information about a facility, we are improving responder safety and speeding the process of getting help to those in need.”

GeoComm’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are used by thousands of 9-1-1 call takers, dispatchers and emergency responders on a daily basis to view the location of emergency incidents and to navigate to the scene. Rave Mobile Safety’s Smart911Facility gives emergency personnel critical data about the facility to which they are responding, including floor plans, access codes and utility locations. The new, joint solution will enable GeoComm systems to utilize Rave’s Smart911Facility feature as a standards compliant, NG9-1-1 Additional Data Repository (ADR) to stream indoor facilities information into GeoComm map displays used when handling emergency calls.

“This exciting new product and service offering from GeoComm and Rave will add additional layers of mission critical information to our map displays,” said John Brosowsky, vice president of product management & innovation at GeoComm. “Indoor locations for mobile 9-1-1 callers will soon be a reality thanks to new rules enacted by the FCC last year. As these indoor location technologies improve and roll out, the next step is to provide responders with actionable information they need to quickly and effectively respond to the identified location.”

At NENA 2016, GeoComm and Rave Mobile Safety will co-present an educational session, “The Next Frontier for GIS: Indoors” on Wednesday, June 15, at 11:00 a.m. ET. Presenters will share indoor location test results performed at St. Cloud State University and explore what indoor mapping may look like in the PSAP of the future.

For more information about 3D and indoor mapping for 9-1-1, contact  or stop by booth #420 at NENA 2016 in Indianapolis on June 13th-14th.

Smart911Facility is a feature of the Rave Public Safety Platform, which provides first responders and PSAPs with more intelligence about the emergency situation to which they are responding. Smart911Facility and entire portfolio of Rave solutions are available for demonstration at NENA 2016 at the Rave booth, #130.

About GeoComm

GeoComm ( was founded in 1995 to provide county governments with turnkey emergency 9-1-1 development services. Over the subsequent 20 years, the company has grown to serve more than 12,000 dispatchers in 800 emergency 9-1-1 call centers in the United States, helping to keep more than 84 million people safe. Today, GeoComm has a national reputation as a leading provider of geographic information and communication systems. The company’s systems route emergency calls to the appropriate call center, map the caller’s location on call taker or dispatcher maps, and guide emergency responders to the scene of the incident on mobile displays within police, fire and ambulance vehicles.

Idaho State University’s New Campus Safety App

Idaho State/ Campus SafetyIdaho State University says a new smart phone app will help improve safety on campus. The app is called Rave-Guardian and is free to download on Android on IOS devices. Campus safety officials say the app is connected to ISU emergency notification system that uses text messages, phone calls and emails to alert the public to critical situations on campus. It also includes a mobile duress button that can transmit the induvial GPS location, telephone number photograph and vehicle information directly to campus safety and virtual safety escort.

Lewis Eakins the Director of Public Safety at ISU “There is no reason why this time. But we are spending a lot more money to keep them up and running. And often times we have to put a cover over them because they are not working.  So we want to make sure that if people are used to seeing a blue light even if they never use it, that they can now use their smart phones for the same purpose.”




ISU Encouraging Use Of Personal Safety App On-campus

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) – Idaho State University is doing away with the old – the 20-year-old blue light emergency poles, that is. With their removal, ISU Public Safety is encouraging the use of the personal safety app RAVE Guardian.

The app has these key features: a mobile panic button, a tip line and a virtual escort service. The escort service allows you to set a timer for how long you expect to get somewhere. If you don’t deactivate the timer within the time frame, public safety will automatically be notified.

Users also have to put in a list of emergency contacts, as well as personal details like what you look like and medical conditions.

Lewis Eakins, the public safety director, said the switch was needed for ISU students, faculty and staff to have quicker communications with the public safety office. Also, because no one really used the poles.

“To everyone’s memory here, they have never been used for an emergency situation. The only time they have been used is when we have a large group of children on our campus for some special event, and then some child presses the button,” Eakins said.

Any questions about downloading, activating or using the app can be directed to ISU Public Safety at 208-282-2911.

Click for more

Rave Executives Speak at NENA Conference

Rave Mobile Safety to Showcase Portfolio of Public Safety Solutions at Booth #130; Rave Executives to Present Three Education and Training Sessions


FRAMINGHAM, Mass., June 6, 2016 – Rave Mobile Safety, the trusted creator of innovative public safety data and communication software, today announced that the company will present at three education and training sessions at NENA’s 2016 Conference & Expo. NENA 2016 will take place from June 11-16, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.

At NENA 2016, thousands of public safety professionals, telecommunications specialists and policy makers will get the opportunity to discuss the issues facing public safety today. Attendees will also gain practical, real-world knowledge that can be put into action immediately and build the skills necessary to tackle today’s challenges.

Rave Mobile Safety will be exhibiting at booth #130 on the show floor. Company executives will also be presenting three training sessions:

  • Todd Piett, ENP, chief product officer, will speak about Citizen Apps & 9-1-1: Hype or Path to Improved Response at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Description: This session will explore the proliferation of citizen-facing apps claiming to improve public safety response. Smartphone apps provide an amazing platform to share information and improve communications. From misleading, to life-saving and everything in between, Piett will discuss how apps can enhance or impede emergency response. Real-world use cases and lessons learned – good and bad – from hundreds of different deployments will be discussed.
  • Matt Serra, ENP, senior director, product management, will co-present The Next Frontier for GIS: Indoors, with Brooks Shannon, senior product manager of GeoComm, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, June 15, 2016. Description: Enhanced location accuracy and increased public expectations are redefining what constitutes an acceptable “dispatchable” location. Yet, indoor spaces are largely unmapped and indoor location is just becoming available in the PSAP environment. During this session, Serra and Shannon will share indoor location test results performed at St. Cloud State University and explore what indoor mapping may look like in the PSAP of the future.
  • Crystal Ayco, ENP, project manager, will present Small Project Management in 9-1-1: A Beginner’s Guide at 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, June 15, 2016. Description: Ask anyone who has designed a new QA program or introduced a new technology solution to their dispatchers, and they will tell you that managing even small-scale projects in a 9-1-1 center is complex and dynamic. Ayco will give attendees a crash course on the basics of project management, with a roadmap to begin and a checklist of what you will need to get the job done.

Dispatch Center Recognized for Innovation

MILLBURN, NJ – The Mountain Valley Emergency Communications Center, which provides 9-1-1 dispatch services for Millburn-Short Hills, Summit, and New Providence, continues to be a pioneer and innovator in incorporating lifesaving technologies into its daily public safety operations.

Scott W. Ruf, the Communication Center’s Executive Director, recently received the 2016 Rave Trailblazer Award in recognition of his outstanding efforts in this area.  The Award was presented by representatives from Rave Mobile Safety, which develops technologies to enable emergency preparedness agencies and first responders to improve public safety and respond more quickly and effectively to emergencies.

Among the Communication Center’s many recent innovations is the implementation of the Smart911 program, a national public safety service that enhances 9-1-1 emergency services.  This program, the first of its kind in New Jersey, allows citizens to create an online Safety Profile at that includes information they would want responders to have in an emergency situation.

“For example, an operator receiving a 9-1-1 call for a house fire would immediately see vital information displayed, such as how many people live in the home or the location of bedrooms,” said Millburn Fire Chief J. Michael Roberts, who also serves as the Township’s Deputy Office of Emergency Management Coordinator.  “EMS responders, meanwhile, would have instant access to medical information and allergies.”

“We are extremely proud to be the first in the state to offer this lifesaving service to our citizens,” added Mr. Ruf.  “By allowing our citizens to provide vital details to our response teams prior to an emergency, we have the ability to positively enhance our response times and ultimately, the outcome of the situation.”

Area residents are encouraged to take advantage of this free, potentially lifesaving resource by logging on at and creating their Safety Profile.

“Safety is a partnership between public safety officials and citizens,” said Chief Roberts.  “We are grateful for the efforts of our residents to keep their families safe, and we applaud Mr. Ruf and his team at the Mountain Valley Emergency Communications Center for their efforts on behalf of the community we serve.”

What is the difference between Smart911 and Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1)?

With recent news coverage of wireless location accuracy challenges, the formation of coalitions to speed the adoption of NG9-1-1, and an increasing number of NG9-1-1 implementations, more and more frequently we at Rave are being asked, “What is the difference between Smart911 and Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1)?”


NG9-1-1 is the industry’s vision for how 9-1-1 calls can be processed after moving to internet-based technology. This means 9-1-1 can accept more than just voice calls, adding the ability to request assistance via text and video – eventually from any internet-connected device.  NG9-1-1 also provides 9-1-1 with a platform that can quickly grow to match the needs of the community, share emergency services between communities, and even send all calls to a different 9-1-1 call center in the event of an outage or large-scale disaster. All of these are difficult or impossible to do with today’s 9-1-1 network.

NG9-1-1 also provides a way to send data “alongside” a 9-1-1 call. For example, imagine placing a call for 9-1-1, and having your name, frequented addresses, pre-existing medical conditions, and emergency contacts instantly available to 9-1-1 and first responders. Imagine placing a call from a large university campus, a shopping mall, or a corporate facility knowing that responders know exactly where to go to gain access to the building, and are able to reference floor plans to know exactly where to find you.

While NG9-1-1 provides a way to send such data, it does not provide tools to collect, store, validate, and manage this complex data. NG9-1-1 is also an emerging technology. It has taken a nearly a decade to develop the standards and get a small fraction of the nation’s 6,000+ 9-1-1 call centers on line. Yet even in these areas, you cannot send video or data alongside an emergency call with the NG9-1-1 network in place – more work remains.

Smart911 is software offered by Rave Mobile Safety. Smart911 is a national database that provides additional life-saving data to 1000’s of 9-1-1 call centers across the county. Smart911 is the “missing piece” which collects, stores, validates, and manages data for millions of individuals and thousands of education, business, healthcare, and government facilities.  We are strong supporters of NG9-1-1 and are confident it is the right path. However, we have seen where providing the right information at the right time can alter the outcome of an emergency. That is why we designed Smart911 to deliver data to any 9-1-1 call center subscribing to our service, regardless of whether it has upgraded to NG9-1-1.

While the journey to nationwide NG9-1-1 will take years, its promise of driving more data into 9-1-1 is ready now. We look forward to being your partner before, during, and after the transition to NG9-1-1.

Reconfigure Your Communications Hub – Smart911

Dispatchers have a tough job. They are the high-stakes switchboard of any agency. What makes this smart911 locations full 570ff57d57ccevocation particularly tough in today’s landscape is expectation: while citizens are used to GPS and their phone’s location data tracking their whereabouts, dispatch systems aren’t always so intuitive. These two agencies (one in California the other in Michigan) did their homework and purchased new software to help integrate their workflow and also respond more effectively. The upgrades made their job easier, but also give entire communities greater peace of mind.

An eye on integration

Garden Grove (Calif.) Dispatch


Garden Grove Police Department has 159 sworn members and 16 dispatchers who field approximately 6,000 calls for service per month. The agency was in top form, but administrators wanted to improve operations by streamlining even further. “We were looking for a system that would integrate all of our different software systems into one. CAD happened to come along for the ride,” says Police Communications Manager Rebecca Meeks.

Purchased: Garden Grove turned to Spillman Software to purchase a customizable CAD, RMS and jail management system. Spillman took eight of the agency’s standing systems and rolled them into one.
What it meant for dispatch: “We don’t have to query several different systems to get the information we need; now that the records management system is integrated with the CAD we just do one search and it all comes back, versus having to go to a different terminal and look everything up.” Meeks has been with Garden Grove, Calif. Police department for 22 years. She was part of the committee to update CAD and RMS systems agency wide. They have been using the new software for six months.
Dispatchers have no complaints so far. It helps that they can make updates within the system that they could not access before. This eliminates the extra step of sending an email to a manager and waiting overnight or sometimes over the weekend for a response.

Favorite features: “We used to have to open each call ticket to see who we’d responded to, and then we’d have to go through and mine the data out,” says Meeks. Now known associates are hyperlinked and show up in one place. “On one screen dispatchers can see the calls we’ve responded to, the type of call we responded to, and the people associated with that address.”

Special circumstances: Dispatchers can now add location or premise warnings to addresses. Eg “resident is nonverbal.” “It does the job when we need it to,” says Meeks.

Transition notes: She offers the following advice to agencies looking to purchase new software or make some upgrades: “Make sure your dispatchers are prepared for the change and know what’s going to happen.” They held an open house where Spillman reps came out and did mini-demos for those who would eventually use the new product. The agency involved as many disciplines as possible who would be affected—property, field and records—in implementation teams. “That way it didn’t all fall on the system administrators…and it’s helpful for us (managers) too because we’re not always here,” says Meeks. The transition took some time—six months leading up to going live and an additional six months of meetings after to check how things are going.

Finally, she advises to “Make sure you make your practices fit the system rather than making the system fit to your practices. That was one of the things we had a lot of philosophical debates about.”

Trading up for smart features

Ottawa Co. (Mich.) Central Dispatch Authority


Between emergency and non-emergency calls, the 26 full-time Ottawa County dispatchers field aboutsmart911 chat full 570ff5808f2f0 350,000 calls per year. The region has 268,000 full-time residents, two major universities, and 40 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. With a heavy migrant population, call-takers were often left to fill-in-the-blanks with various types of calls to 911.

Purchased: Two years ago the county purchased Rave Mobile Safety’s Smart911. “If you don’t know where we are, we don’t necessarily know where you are,” says Tim Smith, executive director, Ottawa Co. Central Dispatch Authority. With Smart911, individual people or facilities update their personal information and it becomes available to dispatchers immediately should that person contact 911. Smith adds, “When you’re having an emergency you…can’t even remember your own address sometimes. So with that information right in front of us we’re now just verifying, ‘You live at 123 Elm Street. Yup.’ All of that information is right in front of you.”

Anyone can create and update their profile with address, work address, school address, summer home and additional data, including medical conditions, pets and photos of children. This information is then pulled up immediately by dispatchers. Smith says they get many “profile pops” on people who are from out of state when they are in the county for tourism or work.

Favorite features: In addition to individuals adding personal profiles, there is a new Facilities Profile option. The agency is targeting its area businesses, churches, schools, senior centers, etc. to add their details. “As long as they’re signed up with a profile, no matter where they are…if it’s a Smart911 area it brings the information up,” says Smith. This is valuable for their tourist and campus populations in particular. “If they have an incident on campus, being able to know where they are on campus and the emergency contact information for their parents or other folks and…medical information is really helpful to us.”

Another valuable feature is the Chat Session where dispatchers can initiate outbound text to any phone capable of receiving them. He says that of about 25 percent of 11,000 calls people will respond to text (rather than answer an unrecognizable number) and reply their call wasn’t an emergency, but rather a butt dial/kid dial/whatever the case may be.

The text feature has also proven useful in a few cases of domestic assault in progress. “Through texting back and forth dispatchers have been able to determine what’s going on and get out there,” says Smith.

Getting the word out: Smith’s agency spreads the word about Smart911 through its media partners and media presentations. “We always do an overview of 911 and Smart911 and explain how that gives us more information to help you the citizen when you’re in distress.”

Thank You John Oliver and Thank You 911

On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver highlighted the current limitations to the 9-1-1 infrastructure and the challenges 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers must overcome due to the drastic increase in mobile 9-1-1 calls.

John Oliver rightly pointed out how Americans across the country trust 9-1-1 and rely on 9-1-1 call takers in their worst moments.

john oliver 911

“Dispatchers do amazing work talking people through child birth, CPR, abductions, and home break ins.” -John Oliver on 911, Last Week Tonight 

“We’re so accustom to relying on them we even call when we don’t have an emergency.” -John Oliver on 911, Last Week Tonight

At our recent Emergency Communications and Response Summit, I was fortunate enough to speak with 9-1-1 industry professionals from across the country and listen to their feedback on how we can continue to improve our Smart911 technology to have an even greater impact on emergency response.

These professionals are on the front lines and see day in and day out the impact of the shortcomings of the 9-1-1 infrastructure and the impact of mobile calls and butt dials. “Understaffed 9-1-1 dispatch” is not just a Google search term; it’s their everyday life.

Thankfully, this wasn’t just the first year we have invited these 9-1-1 professionals in to work with us on how Smart911 can improve emergency response and save lives. For the past 7 years, we have listened to the challenges they face and developed technology that will improve emergency response today.

These 9-1-1 professionals are handling life or death situations and thanks to their valuable product feedback Smart911 has helped them save lives. A few recent examples include:

No, the current 9-1-1 infrastructure is not perfect, but we at Rave Mobile Safety do not have a “blasé attitude” that John Oliver discussed when it comes to 9-1-1. We are committed to developing the best technology that can help the 9-1-1 professionals who are the lifeline of the American people.

“These men and women are absolute heroes, and thousands of lives will be saved tonight because of their dedication.”  -John Oliver on 911, Last Week Tonight

john oliver 911
Thank you to all the 9-1-1 industry professionals who attended the 2016 Rave Emergency Communications & Response Summit and provided valuable insights and feedback about Smart911.





2016 Rave Trailblazer Award Winner


Scott W. Ruf, Executive Director of the Mountain Valley Emergency Communications Center accepts the The 2016 Rave Trailblazer Award from Tom Axbey, CEO and President of Rave Mobile Safety, and Todd Piett, Chief Product Officer of Rave Mobile Safety.

The 2016 Rave Trailblazer Award is presented to

Scott W. Ruf, Executive Director

Mountain Valley Emergency Communications Center

For his innovation and dedication to incorporating lifesaving technologies into daily public safety operations. Furthermore, Executive Director is being recognized as the first multiple state Charter50 partner.

WKYT Investigates: 911 Disconnect, Madison County Dispatchers Talk Trouble Spots


RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) – The death Music Icon Prince brought to the forefront a possible disconnect in a cellphone’s ability to connect with 911 dispatchers.

A portion of the transcript from the day Prince died says:
UM: We have someone who is unconscious.
D1: Okay, what’s the address?
UM: Um, we’re at Prince’s house.
D1: Okay, does anybody know the address? Is there any mail around that you could look at?
UM: Yea, yea, okay, hold on.
D1: Okay, your cell phone’s not going to tell me where you’re at, so I need you to find me an address.
UM: Yea, we have um, yea, we have um, so, yeah, um, the person is dead here.

Eventually, another person yells out the address.

The inability of Minneapolis dispatcher to locate the cellphone location, sent WKYT’s investigations team on search to see if the same thing could happen here. Madison County Emergency Operations team agreed to work with WKYT on the test.

Wendy Lynch, Madison County 911 Director, sent WKYT a list of trouble areas they’ve had in the county over the past year — places where they weren’t able to easily identify where the cell phone was calling from. Most of the trouble spots were in rural parts of the county.

WKYT’s Miranda Combs tested four different areas of the county. With the cooperation of Madison 911 dispatch, Combs called from her cellphone from multiple locations. For the first three calls, a dispatcher was able to get within feet, if not exactly locate Combs’ location. On the forth call, Combs was in front of Newby Grocery, well inside Madison County. However, Garrard County dispatch picked up the 911 call.

“We’d be old and white-headed by the time they found us,” said Newby Grocery Owner Jerry Rose. “People’s in here all the time lost. So I know if they broke down or got hurt they wouldn’t know where they are at.”

Madison County dispatchers explained, since it is a rural area, cellphone signals bounce off neighboring county cell towers. They said pinpointing a location is a two-part process. When a person calls 911 from a cell phone, they first see the cell phone tower the person hit, which may not be close to the caller.

Then comes the second phase, which during WKYT’s test, took more than a minute at times, to pinpoint the location using latitude and longitude. “I think it does take precious moments away, if you aren’t aware of your surroundings, or if you are unable to speak your surroundings. It takes a little bit of time to get those calls for service started,” Lynch said. But she said while the second phase is working to pinpoint the call, first responders are already heading toward the caller.

Madison County officials said SMART 911 is available in their county and can be a great asset for cellphone users and dispatchers during an emergency.

“We’re going to get you what you need,” said Dispatcher Ashley King.


By Miranda Combs

New 911 Mass Notification System for Lewis and Clark County

(HELENA) Emergency Responders in Helena and Lewis and Clark County have a new way to send mass notifications to residents in the event of fire, flood or missing child events.

For several years, officials have used a system that only sends voice messaging to those who sign up for the service.

The new system, called Rave Alert will still send voice messages, but it will also send information to email, text and social media like Facebook and Twitter.

The previous system had approximately 39,000 residents signed up.

“It is ideal for all residents who want to receive the alerts from signing up for the Rave Alert system to ensure their information is accurate and up to date,” said Peter Callahan, 911 Center Manager. “A signup allows them to enter an email address and password that they can manage on their own, and they can log in the system, create a profile and manage it so if they ever were to change phone numbers, addresses, they can do that on their own.”


Reporter: Melissa Jensen