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RapidSOS, Partners Create Free Public Safety Tech Service

The emergency response company and several public-sector partners won a $1 million grant to collaborate on the R2 Network, meant to be an educational and professional resource for the industry.

In partnership with other private and public entities, the emergency response tech company RapidSOS is working on a national, free-to-use service to help public safety agencies vet and learn about new technology and best practices.

According to a news release earlier this month, the project is called the R2 Network, and it’s being funded in part by a $1 million grant from three public entities: the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Public Safety Communications Research Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the First Responder Network Authority. They awarded the grant to a private-public partnership consisting of four entities: RapidSOS, the investment firm Responder Corp, the Western Fire Chiefs Association and the Orleans Parish Communication District, which is the 911 administrative office for the city of New Orleans. The private-public partnership will match the grant they received, giving the project a total of $2 million in funding.

The news release described R2 Network as consisting of three parts: R2 Learn, which will set up educational resources for tech companies and public safety officials to learn about challenges and opportunities in the public safety market; R2 Portal, an online resource for companies and departments to find, vet or deploy new technology; and R2 Connect, which will create events and other programs for companies and public officials in the public safety market to swap stories and learn from each other about best practices and new technology.

“Technology has not caught up with the needs of public safety. The technology pieces are there, but they are just not assembled, built for and aligned in a way that is useful for first responders,” said Jeff Johnson, CEO of Western Fire Chiefs Association, in the statement. “We are excited to work with our R2 Network partners to solve for this.”

The $1 million grant is only the latest, and not nearly the biggest, chunk of change bestowed upon RapidSOS in what has been a fortuitous year of investment for the company. It closed a $21 million funding round in June, a $1.1 million round in May and a $3.5 million round in April, according to Crunchbase. Since its launch in 2013, RapidSOS has been partnering and integrating with other tech companies to connect their products and devices in order to feed information to first responders during emergencies. The company announced a new partnership in August with satellite radio company Sirius XM to improve the sharing of telematics from connected vehicles.

According to CEO Michael Martin, RapidSOS’s products and services have linked more than 350 million devices to some 4,800 public safety agencies, and they’re involved in close to 250 million emergencies a year.

“We’re excited to partner with these innovators in tech and public safety to develop a first-of-its-kind network to help other entrepreneurs develop solutions that will enhance our nation’s emergency response systems,” Martin’s statement read.