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RapidSOS Launches Emergency Response Technology Network

Emergency workers and communication centers can use new technology to ensure quick and accurate responses. Connecting those agencies with more software providers would help with those efforts.

911 Call
New York-based startup RapidSOS has launched a digital network designed to enable public safety agencies to access some of the most cutting-edge emergency response technology on the market.

The RapidSOS Partner Network connects software providers with emergency communication centers such as 911 operations, enabling those professionals to access technology related to medical data, drones, body cameras, 3D indoor mapping, building access and related areas. The idea is to provide a seamless, cloud-based platform that helps 911 operators and first responders do their jobs more efficiently, which in turn can help save lives.

“At the end of the day, we want to help improve response times,” said Jessica Reed, the company’s vice president of global products.

Through the RapidSOS Partner Network, public safety agencies can access and decide to buy software from such companies as Motorola Solutions, Hexagon and CentralSquare. In all, RapidSOS, a cloud-based tech provider, has recruited 20 partners so far for the new network.

Those tools from network participants can then aid with emergency responses by, say, displaying relevant medical data for an accident victim in a way that conforms to standards of triage.

“Companies are vetted,” Reed said of the firms that are part of the network, “and the data that is made available is only data that will be useful for emergency response.”

The goal is to provide via one standard platform the information needed to better help with emergency response, with data ordered in a way that doesn’t lead to an unhelpful firehose of facts, which might serve to confuse or otherwise delay those responses. According to Reed, RapidSOS conducts in-field work and training to make sure its tools keep up with the needs of emergency responders.

RapidSOS serves some 5,000 emergency communication centers, which in total cover 94 percent of the U.S. population, the company said. Reed said RapidSOS has a presence in Mexico and Canada and is expanding in the United Kingdom. Data from RapidSOS was used in 150 million emergencies in 2020.

Even amid ongoing calls to “defund the police,” local and state law enforcement agencies have to keep up with modern technology and communication methods. According to RapidSOS, for instance, 80 percent of 911 calls come from mobile phones, which can still present challenges in terms of determining location.

That’s why some local agencies are upgrading their own emergency response technology. Recently, for instance, Jasper County, Iowa, deployed a new alert system to handle that shift.

It’s a safe bet that even more law enforcement and emergency response operations will make similar moves, no matter the political climate. Take this recent finding from research firm Frost & Sullivan: Investment in next-generation 911 technology in the U.S. will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.6 percent through 2026, hitting $1.07 billion as governments replace legacy systems.

The pandemic is playing a role in that growth, driving home the importance of cloud-based and Internet protocol emergency response technologies and bringing more speed and accuracy to 911 operations. Frost & Sullivan found that by 2026, at least 95 percent of the U.S. population will be covered by next-generation 911 systems, up from 60 percent in 2020.

“Statewide requests for proposals where states have centrally organized their public safety answering points to conduct statewide NG911 upgrade, have emerged as the preferred and most efficient approach to NG911 implementations,” said Brent Iadarola, Frost & Sullivan's VP of information and communication technology, in a press release.
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.