New Online Service Makes 911 Calls More Efficient
The City of Columbia adopted a program last week that makes 911 calls more efficient for emergency response personnel.
Smart911 is a free service that allows Boone County residents to register information regarding house floor plans, medical information and allergies through its website. The program is available to MU students as well as the general public.
More than 1,500 Boone County residents have already registered for Smart911 within the first week of launch, which is one of the largest launches nationwide. The county is the first in Missouri to adopt the program, said Zim Schwartze, Public Safety Joint Communications Center Director. Services began Aug. 15.
The information will be made available to first responders in the event that a resident calls 911 from a registered phone in Boone County. The program is offered by the city’s Public Safety Joint Communications Center, which serves the residents of Boone County as part of the Office of Emergency Management.
“Information such as pre-existing medical conditions, allergies and even household pets can be provided, all of which are helpful,” Schwartze said.
Information is kept secure and is only available to responders for the duration of the emergency, a news release stated.
“It takes one or two seconds for a dispatcher to access Smart911 information once someone has called 911 from a registered phone,” PSJC Systems Support Analyst Brian Maydwell said.
A first responder can receive information from either a video display in their vehicle or the dispatcher, Maydwell said.
PSJC encourages MU students to provide any information they think would be useful to first responders.
“We want to get MU students signed up for this service, including those living off-campus,” Schwartze said. “As part of their promotional campaign, the PSJC has provided information about Smart911 as part of the welcome materials given to every incoming freshman.”
The center began researching the possibility of how to update their existing technology about four months ago, Schwartze said. The program was purchased for $25,000 from Rave Mobile Safety, which is based in Massachusetts. The money for the purchase came from cuts to other outdated technologies.
Public safety officials across the country have encouraged college students to register their cell phones for Smart911 because they may not have a landline phone. Registering with the program is more efficient since most residents don’t have landlines, Maydwell said.
Several college towns such as Lexington, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn., already have the Smart911 service available to all students in the area.
More than 3 million people have registered for Smart911 nationwide. A caller who has registered for Smart911 has their information in a national database, Maydwell said.
“If a registered phone from Columbia is used in Nashville or any other Smart911 community, dispatchers and first responders will have access to their provided information as well,” Maydwell said.
Students can register for Smart911 at www.smart911.com.