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Smart911 to Speed Emergency Response in Honolulu

Honolulu is adopting Smart911, which allows first responders to get crucial details on any emergency situation.

(TNS) -- The Honolulu Police Department plans to launch a program that would provide first responders with medical, health and other information on callers to help improve response times.

Smart911 allows residents to create a free online profile and input medical and health information, address, emergency contacts and other details. The information, which is registered to a phone number, will appear to dispatchers when a 911 call is made and can help first responders more quickly find the location of an emergency.

“Anything that improves the communication with first responders is a good thing,” said Aaron Landry, Chair of the Ala Moana/Kakaako Neighborhood Board.

HPD Capt. Rade Vanic said police hope to launch the optional service next month. The department did not provide a cost for the program.

“Of course, when you call 911, it’s never a planned thing,” Vanic said. “By having a Smart911 setup with their preregistered information, that information can then be passed on to the first responder who will be able to utilize the information to get them there quicker, or if there’s a medical condition, they know what to expect.”

According to the national service, developed by Mass-achusetts-based Rave Mobile Safety, more than 70 percent of emergency calls nationwide are made from mobile phones, which do not directly link to an address or a name like a landline.

Vanic said that when people call 911 it takes time for officers to find them. He added that every second counts when saving a life.

“The end result is it will help first responders save lives and get to the location,” Vanic said.

No other police departments in Hawaii have so far implemented the program, which is used in 29 states and by more than 300 emergency centers nationwide.

But some concerns have been raised about the safety and security of the online database. According to the service, Smart911 ensures that information is available only to public-safety officials when responding to an emergency. Phone numbers listed in the profiles, which must be updated and confirmed every six months, are validated when residents sign up.

Information “is stored and protected in a secure database,” according to HPD’s website. The program is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and secured by Norton and VeriSign.

Although Smart911’s website says “you can trust that your information is private and secure,” the privacy policy states that it is the user’s responsibility to determine how much or little information to make available.

Vanic added that the system is “a pretty safe resource.”

“People can put in as much or little as they want … whatever they think will help,” Vanic said.

Nearly 240 million calls are made nationwide to 911 annually, according to the National Emergency Number Association. Islandwide about 1 million calls for service were received last year, about 870,000 of which were for police. In 2013 HPD received about 751,000 calls for service, with a total of about 980,000 calls islandwide.

Landry, said he thinks “anything that improves the communication with first responders is a good thing.”

Kanani Wond, a member of the Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board, said she thinks it is a “smart idea to be quicker and to have more information in a moment that could be a crucial moment.”

“You’re already in a fragile situation, a crisis, and I think in today’s day and age, it would be keeping up with technology,” Wond said. “Some people might think that that might infringe on their privacy. But I guess you could give what you want to give.”

©2015 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.