New 911 Service Debuts in Boone County

7 years 2 months 3 days ago Monday, August 15 2011 Aug 15, 2011 Monday, August 15, 2011 1:19:00 PM CDT August 15, 2011 in News
By: Marc Steidler
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COLUMBIA - Public Safety Joint Communications Center (PSJC) introduced a new 9-1-1 service Monday that will allow the 9-1-1 Operations Center to immediately view previously entered information of registered callers. PSJC is partnering with Rave Mobile Safety to offer the free service, "Smart911."

"Smart911 can make information about you and your family readily available to emergency responders at a time when seconds count," PSJC Director Zim Schwartze said.

The way it works is residents can log on to smart911.com and register information they want to make available to 9-1-1 during an emergency. That information can include medical conditions, home addresses of mobile phone callers, disabilities, and other rescue-related information. When a Smart911-registered phone calls the 9-1-1 operations center, the entered information comes up automatically.

Some residents are skeptical of the new service. Ashland resident Mike Nichols said he will not register with Smart911 because he has no confidence in any government institution to protect his information.

According to Brian Maydwell, systems support analyst at PSJC, the 9-1-1 system hasn't been upgraded since 2003, when the ability to trace mobile phone calls to an area within 200 meters of a specific tower was added. He said nearly 70 percent of all emergency calls come from mobile devices, which prompted the need for a new service that provides more information.

Rave Mobile will host the registered users' information in its database. Three million users nationally have registered information on Smart911, in Nashville and Atlanta, among other cities. The information is available to 9-1-1 operators for 45-60 minutes after the initial call, then it will disappear. 

PSJC will partner with MU and Columbia Public Schools to spread the word about the Smart911 service. Information about Smart911 service will also be included with the coming month's utility statements.

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