Cedar Park Police Department Debuts Smart911 Personal Safety Profiles
January 28, 2015
Cedar Park residents can now create personal safety profiles that could help officers know more about callers’ needs before arriving on the scene of an emergency.
Cedar Park Chief of Police Sean Mannix said the department activated the new Smart 911 system Jan. 27. Residents can create their own digital accounts and input information, such as phone numbers, home addresses, apartment numbers, pet information and health information such as allergies to medications.
“We are the first and only [city] in Central Texas right now [with Smart 911],” Mannix said.
Dispatchers can access and share a profile’s data with police only during an emergency and after a resident with a number listed in the profile calls 911, he said.
Cedar Park police installed the new system because about 70 to 80 percent of Cedar Park’s 911 calls are made from cellphones. Mannix said the surest way of determining a caller's location is if the caller uses a landline. Dispatchers can triangulate a cellphone signal to find a caller’s general location, but officers may still have trouble determining a caller’s exact coordinates in an apartment complex. Callers with medical emergencies may be unable to give their addresses, he said.
Dispatchers will continue to geo-locate cellphone signals and ask callers for their addresses, with Smart 911 safety profiles serving as a supplement, Mannix said.
Mannix acknowledged some may have privacy concerns about the information collection, but he said no one has tried to hack into Smart 911 profiles in other cities. Account information is not shared, and residents can update any time. Mannix added that the system, which has helped save lives, will prompt participants to update their profiles at least once every six months.
Cedar Park resident Sharon Wolfe said she signed up early for Smart 911. Wolfe said she believes it is worthwhile to share her medical information with police in case of an emergency.
“The more [information] you put in there, it makes it easier” for officers to do their jobs, Wolfe said.
Mannix said the department is planning more upgrades, such as an anonymous texting service the department may formally announce in a few months.
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