Bill Hobgood Bill Hobgood

Photo: Bill Hobgood, Public Safety Team project manager of the Richmond Department of IT

The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials is considering adopting a technology standard, established in Richmond, Va., that lets alarm companies automatically transmit alerts to local 911 centers. Alarm companies typically call 911 centers when an alarm is triggered. Richmond's Public Safety Data Interoperability Project - involving one alarm company and two 911 centers - eliminated 5,000 calls during a two-year pilot. Richmond is making the standard a law for its 911 centers. Bill Hobgood, Public Safety Team project manager of the Richmond Department of IT, explains the project.

How does this standard directly benefit first responders?

One benefit is to eliminate [in the U.S.] up to 32 million telephone calls from alarm companies to 911 public safety answering points (PSAP). Another benefit is eliminating two to three minutes of processing time that it traditionally takes for a call taker to take the information from the alarm company operator. That means police, fire and emergency medical services (EMS) will arrive at an emergency two and a half to three minutes faster. That will increase the likelihood of police apprehension. It increases the chances that fires will be extinguished faster. Of course, a bunch of lives will be saved from an EMS standpoint.

How will alarm companies using various computer systems tap into the 911-center system?

The standard is XML-based. A complete package has been laid out for all of them. The software providers have provided software for the alarm companies. For vendors that are providing computer-aided dispatch systems for the PSAPs, the document is being laid out to help them accomplish this. If it becomes an adopted standard, they shouldn't have any problem.

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Andy Opsahl  |  Features Editor