King County launches regional Smart 911 service
September 14, 2012 · Updated 4:19 PM
In an emergency, seconds count. Making sure 9-1-1 call-takers and emergency responders have all the information they need can mean the difference between life and death. To assist in this critical task, King County is launching “Smart911,” a supplemental data service that allows residents to create a personal safety profile in a secure database. That information can then be used to assist 9-1-1 call-takers and responders in the field.
“With this new tool, 9-1-1 call-takers can locate callers and send help to the right place more efficiently,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “It’s especially effective for users of cell phones, whose locations cannot be pinpointed as they can with landlines.”
Smart911 is free to every resident of King County, and registration is voluntary. To create a safety profile, users go to a secure website, www.Smart911.com. Then, they enter their phone numbers, as well as address, medical, disability, or other information that could be useful to emergency personnel.
When a call comes in to a 9-1-1 center from a Smart911-registered phone, the additional data is displayed at the 9-1-1 call center. The information also can be accessed by medics, firefighters, and police officers responding to the emergency.
Today, about 70 percent of 9-1-1 calls are made from wireless phones. However, wireless phones only provide the general location of a caller, not their exact address. With Smart911, people can put their home, school, and work addresses into the safety profile associated with their wireless phone. These addresses will assist 9-1-1 call-takers in locating callers when lives are at stake.
“Smart911 is a simple, yet effective tool to help our officers and other emergency service providers get the right people and right equipment to the right place,” said King County Sheriff Steve Strachan. “The Sheriff’s Office responds to 330,000 calls a year, and Smart911 can help us more effectively serve the public.”
“I applaud our E-911 Program Office for pursuing new and more individualized ways to help residents in need,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who chairs the Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “Smart911 is a life-saving resource, and a practical way for all of us to build a safer community.”
Smart911 is particularly useful for people with disabilities. For example, if someone who is deaf or hard of hearing is registered, the 9-1-1 call-taker will be able to see that information when a call comes in.
“Today people who are deaf must contact 9-1-1 through video relay service, which takes a long time,” said Laura Gramer, co-chair of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities. “Smart911 will allow people who are deaf or hard of hearing to communicate directly with 9-1-1, saving valuable time in an emergency.”
King County is the first jurisdiction in Washington State to implement Smart911. All 9-1-1 centers across the county will be operational by the end of the year. In addition, Smart911 is a national database, with many other communities across the United States already participating. If a King County resident has registered their wireless phone with Smart911, and has to call 9-1-1 in another Smart911 participating jurisdiction, their information will still be displayed.
For more information about Smart911, visit www.Smart911.com. For more information about the King County E-911 program, visit www.kingcounty.gov/911.