New System Helps 911 Respond Faster


A caller to 9-1-1 may still have to tell the operator where they are located in case of an emergency. Many people now use cell phones instead of home phones and those locations are not as exact. A new system introduced to Arkansas on Monday may soon solve a lot of those issues.

It’s called Smart911 and it basically is a free data base that anyone can register for to give pertinent information concerning your home, health, house and location and phone numbers.

I visited the Paragould 911 center Monday and listened as Chief Dispatcher, Ralph Forbs repeatedly asked a cell caller what her address was.

With the new “smart” database, time won’t have to be spent asking questions like that.

Forbs says automatic information on a call is rather limited right now.

“If it’s a home phone, we’ll get their home phone, home address and the persons name listed to that address.”

Cell phone call locations are more generic and have to be pinned down between dispatcher and caller. On a tracking screen a huge red circle surrounds the cell tower that the call is coming in on. Forbs says often they have to triangulate to locate a cell caller.

Smart911 is a personalized data base available to Arkansas residents at no charge. It was introduced from the steps of the Capitol on Monday morning.

Forbs, “With Smart 911 they will be able to tell us if there is an Alzheimer’s patient that lives in the home or if there is somebody that has special needs.” Other information can include how many live in the home and where their bedrooms are located or if an oxygen bottle is present in the home which could be danger to firefighters.

That kind of information is invaluable to Fire Departments. Paragould Assistant Fire Chief Danny Rogers says they plan as the trucks roll.

“If we know that for instance we have a disabled person in the house it makes a world of difference on how we approach that . If there’s a life safety issue it changes our mode of operation.” Rogers said.

Enrolling in Smart911 is relatively easy. All you have to do is go to the website and put in as much information as you want. But remember the more you put in the better off you’re going to be in case of an emergency.

All information is in a secure data base strictly for 911 use only. It will be a good idea to update every six months or if there are changes in the household.

One additional feature could be a great help for parents with kids.

For a missing child a person could put a picture on their Smart 911 folder.

Forbs, “We can already have that photo sent to the officer to the laptops in their cars. That way when he’s responding to the scene, he can see a picture of that child and maybe even possibly spot that child before he gets to that location.”

Not all of Arkansas is using the system now. It will take several months for the hardware and software to be installed at 9-1-1 centers but you can go ahead and register your data right now.

Hopefully it will never be needed but just it case, it’s there.


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