Researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) are about to begin beta testing a smartphone application that will stream audio and video from a 911 caller to the campus’s emergency dispatch center. The application, called V911, allows users to contact a public safety dispatcher with the touch of a button. Activating the application establishes a connection with a public safety dispatcher who sees and hears what is going on at the scene. The application also provides the dispatcher with the identity and location of the smartphone. 

The app sends data over the university’s wireless network. Streaming one minute of video may require up to 20 MB of data transfer, according to one data use calculator. Using the application in an area of campus not covered by Wi-Fi could be potentially costly, depending on a user’s mobile data plan. Researchers expect the cost of using the application to be covered by wireless carriers by the time it’s released.

The application will ultimately be free to students and other members of the university community. Application set up is expected to require registration that will provide dispatchers the phone’s unique identifier and location. “When you hit the V911 app, it connects to us, it pops up, the dispatcher sees it and they can hear it and they can communicate with the person via voice two-way communication,” said Jay Gruber, UMD’s assistant chief of police.

Go to Emergency Management to learn more about the V911 app.