NATCOM Director Willis Carter provided information on the bill concerning using apps to enhance 911 systems operations as mentioned in the article above. He said, “A number of phone apps have been introduced into the market that in one form or another are intended to enhance the operations of 9-1-1 systems.
While some of these may be helpful, it is important to note that the technology supporting them must first and foremost seamlessly interface both with legacy as well as next generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) computer-aided dispatch systems already in use by public safety agencies across the area. Even without the automatic interfacing that some of these apps offer, most computer-aided dispatch systems protecting public safety that are in operation today already have the functionality to store and recall certain information related to a specific address.
This information can be displayed in the form of a “premise” file flag shown to the call-taker when a 9-1-1 call is received at an emergency call center. This function can be beneficial in cases involving persons who have an pre-existing or unique medical conditions, individuals with special needs, mental health patients or where hazards are present in or around the relevant structure, etc.
However, the benefits of this feature are measured solely by the accuracy of the information contained in these “premise” files. 9-1-1 emergency communications centers must rely upon individual residents to provide the information that pertains to the location, and the information must be manually entered into the computer-aided dispatch data files by agency personnel.
Therefore, questions for the agencies may include 1) Does the agency have a process in place that can ensure the accuracy of the information stored? 2) Is there a process in place directing and setting conditions for a scheduled audit of these files? and 3) Is staffing of the emergency communications center sufficient to not only enter the data, but to conduct audits and subsequently purge outdated information?
Although seemingly convenient and potentially very useful, the process is not as simple and straightforward as it may seem. Much thought and careful planning is needed to ensure the success of such an effort.”