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Callyo’s i911 Gives Caller’s Location to First Responders

The police tech startup’s website aims to skirt outdated infrastructure that doesn’t give public safety professionals accurate location data. The technology can use cellphone GPS to help locate the caller.

Callyo, a startup that makes technology for public safety agencies, announced last month a free website where first responders can find accurate, real-time locations of 911 callers.

According to the product website, Callyo’s will allow qualified first responders to create a free account and begin finding nearby calls for service within minutes, provided those calls come from mobile devices. By signing in and entering the mobile number of an emergency caller, an i911 user may be able to see the precise location of the caller’s device automatically, or they’ll have the option to send a text asking for the caller’s consent to share their exact whereabouts with emergency services.

A news release said user data cannot be used for any non-emergency purpose, and only authorized first responders will have access to the user's location.

About 80 percent of 911 calls come from mobile devices, according to the news release, but outdated infrastructure sometimes prevents the phones from giving an accurate location. The Federal Communications Commission has estimated in rulemaking proceedings that fixing this problem could save more than 10,000 lives per year.

Callyo founder and Chief Product Officer Chris Bennett said his passion for the idea traces back to winning runner-up in CTIA's Location Based Services Challenge in 2008.

"I just couldn't get it out of my head that 10 years later, everything is delivered right to your door, yet paramedics may be circling the neighborhood trying to find you," he said in the statement. "You think they know exactly where you are when you call 911 from your cellphone. They don't."

The news release said Callyo’s online portal is the result of a partnership with RapidSOS, a New York-based startup that makes software to transmit data from 911 callers’ phones to emergency responders. Callyo and RapidSOS got acquainted as co-tenants of ResponderXLabs, an entrepreneur makerspace powered by Amazon Web Services.

RapidSOS’ most popular product, NG911 Clearinghouse, links millions of connected devices to 911 and first responders through public safety software integrators like i911. Through this new partnership, agencies using i911 will have access to data from millions of enabled smartphones without anyone downloading an app.

RapidSOS announced earlier this month that it had raised $30 million from investors to build out this and other projects.