New emergency communications system to integrate cross-jurisdictional data into one digital space
Over the last two decades, the emergency management community has recognized that natural disasters and other emergency situations don’t always follow county lines or town borders. Interagency collaboration is vital—mutual aid agreements expand the capacity of first responders, for example, and data sharing solutions can give local telecommunicators region-wide data at the click of a mouse button.
One such cloud-based advancement scheduled to soon be released by the New York-based emergency technology company RapidSOS, the Emergency Data Exchange, will enable real-time interoperability (the ability of computer or software systems to exchange information) through digital automation—even if different centers aren’t using the same programs or devices.
Built on Amazon Web Services’ GovCloud, the platform enables cross-jurisdictional incident information to be accessed via a digital interface that leverages the National Emergency Number Association’s Emergency Incident Data Object—a type of computer coding that’s designed for the exchange of emergency incident information and data. Amazon Web Services’ GovCloud is a cloud-based infrastructure platform that meets specific government regulatory and compliance requirements.
Within that framework, the “Emergency Data Exchange is meant to improve collaboration and response times using systems already available to emergency communication centers,” said Ryan Reynolds, justice and public safety lead at Amazon. “We believe that this innovation will help solve the challenges with multi-jurisdictional dispatching, emergency response and disasters.”
As communities become more technologically advanced and next-generation 911 technology is introduced en masse, interjurisdictional collaboration in the digital realm will become increasingly important. Most recently on that front, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) introduced a Senate bill that, if advanced, would provide $10 billion in federal funding for next-generation 911 technology in 911 centers. A similar package has been proposed to be included in the $3.5 trillion spending package currently being considered in the House.
“Infrastructure is more than just roads and bridges—it also includes critical technologies,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “We must bring our 911 systems into the 21st century by providing state and local governments with the resources they need to update our emergency response networks and keep our communities safe. In a crisis, no one should be put in danger because of outdated 911 systems, and first responders, public safety officials, and law enforcement must be able to communicate seamlessly. This legislation will enable them to do just that.”
The system automatically digitizes information shared by neighboring first response agencies, integrating data generated separately and organically into one digital space that’s accessible by everyone who needs it, a statement about the platform explains.
The platform also enables communication centers to talk securely to each other in real time, via text, and to coordinate resources across various agencies—even if they’re not all using the same software programs to do so. Currently, the statement notes there’s a “disconnect between various public safety software available to ECCs (emergency communication centers).”
The Emergency Data Exchange platform is able to bring all agencies together by leveraging the power of Amazon’s serverless application architecture, which “provides cloud capabilities that allow disparate systems to connect with each other. By making (the exchange) an independent platform, RapidSOS will be able to create interoperability among dozens of software providers, which will further enable connectivity between the agencies that use them,” the statement says.
In practice, this can help neighboring agencies better understand what’s going on outside of their immediate region. And for those communication centers actively engaged in an incident, it can help telecommunicators “digitally connect to real-time incident information and request or offer response assistance.” And looking ahead to the future, it “will serve as a multi-channel communications platform for agencies and provide integrated response to emergencies,” the statement says.
The system was designed to overcome this communication barrier faced by regional emergency managers “in partnership with public safety. As a trusted partner to 911, we work with public safety to understand the unique use cases on the ground and how RapidSOS can help solve these challenges,” said Jessica Reed, vice president of strategy and global partners at RapidSOS.
RapidSOS powers more than 5,000 emergency communication centers globally, covering more than 94 percent of the world’s population, and is integrated with over 350 million connected devices. These devices, recognized as RapidSOS Ready, transmit real-time location health and medical information, connected building and alarm data, and more in an emergency. The Emergency Data Exchange will be available later this year. For more information and to learn how to integrate the forthcoming system, email [email protected].