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RapidDeploy Mapping Tech Backs South Carolina 988 Hotline

The deal, involving the new national suicide hotline, is the company’s first such statewide contract. The announcement foreshadows over gov tech business developments for the latest emergency dispatch option in the U.S.

988 image. Women dials smart phone.
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One of the newest areas of public safety technology is the nationwide 988 suicide and crisis hotline, and RapidDeploy has announced its first statewide deployment in this area, via a deal in South Carolina that could pave the way for other such contracts.

The Texas-based mapping and analytics provider said that its Radius Mapping tool — which can determine a caller’s location and provide supplement data to call receivers, among other tasks — will help Mental Health America of Greenville County operate the 988 hotline in South Carolina. That organization manages the state’s 988 program and operates related efforts such as depression screening.

The move marks RapidDeploy’s first statewide venture into 988 centers, according to a company statement. The 988 hotline launched during the summer, replacing the 10-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The idea is not only to make it simpler and easier for people in crisis to access help but to take pressure off 911 operators and other emergency responders by making sure mental health calls quickly get to the appropriate professionals.

As RapidDeploy CEO Steven Raucher told Government Technology in an email interview, emergency dispatchers at the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office have been using Radius Mapping for 911 calls since 2019.

“The Radius Mapping solution can help solve some of their location, resource and communication challenges by helping to improve routing from calls coming in from other area codes, resource location mapping for local food banks and homeless shelters, finding exact caller locations with an opt-in approach, two-way text for easier communications and sharing data with 911 on calls that need to be escalated to public safety,” he said.

RapidDeploy has dealt with 911 centers in nine other states, and the company expects to announce other deals involving 988 hotlines in the coming months, Raucher said — a sign of the potential new business developments around this latest addition to emergency dispatch in the United States.

“988 is still new and the stakeholders are mapping out the workflows to best support the community with mental health needs,” he said. “The purpose of 988 is very different than 911, but some of the challenges are the same and solutions like Radius Mapping are already out there and can solve these challenges.”
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 New Orleans.