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Prepared Raises $9.8M to Bring Livestreaming to 911 Dispatch

The company hopes to gain revenue by offering upgrades to the free software offered to emergency dispatch agencies. The funding round comes as NG911 work gains more investor and public interest.

911 on a smartphone screen
Emergency dispatch technology provider Prepared has raised $9.8 million in a seed funding round — fresh capital that amounts to a new bet on the growth of real-time and livestreamed 911 call data, and providing free tools to get there.

Prepared was founded in 2019 in New Haven, Conn., by three Yale University students and focuses on getting livestreamed and other real-time, “advanced data” from mobile 911 callers to dispatchers.

The tool fits into the larger trend of — and ongoing investor interest in — deploying technology that better serves the emergency response needs of mobile callers, and which allows more data to make its way to first responders in quick fashion.

Prepared offers its basic technology for free to emergency dispatchers, Michael Chime, co-founder and CEO, told Government Technology in an email interview.

As he explained it, when a mobile 911 user calls a dispatch center that has deployed Prepared Live, the dispatcher can pull the phone number from the computer-aided dispatch system — or by simply asking the caller — and then enter that number into the Prepared software tool.

The 911 caller then receives a text link that allows the caller to livestream their surroundings to the dispatch center. That gives the dispatcher eyes-on-the-scene capability.

The free-software model is what will make Prepared stand out from many competitors, Chime said. Revenue will come from upselling other tools that agencies can add to the basic platform.

“We’ve seen free models for 911 gain some traction in dispatch over the last decade, as companies like RapidSOS now cover the vast majority of centers,” Chime said. “We think that business models that start with free software are commonplace in almost every other industry and we believe that, if brought to the government space, this model can go a long way in removing friction to innovation in the space.”

Since launch, some 2 million people are covered by the 35 emergency dispatch agencies that have signed up for Prepared, Chime said, and the company has grown to nearly 20 employees. Word-of-mouth will help bring more growth as more agencies search for ways to keep up with mobile communications and the need for real-time data, he said.

Prepared has raised $12 million in total.

The most recent funding round was led by new investors First Round Capital, Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI-focused venture fund), 8VC and industry angels. Returning investor M13 and new investor Risk and Return also took part.

According to Chime, the new capital will go toward hiring in sales, customer service, product and engineering, along with the development of new features for the software platform and industry partnerships.

“Historically, audio is the only layer of data accessible by 95 percent of emergency dispatch systems, and Prepared is disrupting this legacy system to improve first responder situational awareness by capturing the organic data available in users’ smartphones,” said Ray Kelly, adviser at Risk and Return and former commissioner of the New York Police Department, in a statement.
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in Wisconsin.