TeleCommunication Systems (TCS) recently announced TCS Smart911, which lets 911 operators access potentially critical information quickly during emergency communications that use text messaging via short message service (SMS).

This Smart911 enhanced database-access capability is integrated into the TCS Geospatial Emergency Manager (GEM) portal that the company is using to provide text-to-911 functionality to public-safety answering points (PSAPs), according to Kent Hellebust, vice president of the TCS safety and security group.

"The Smart911 service is bringing a true next-generation multimedia database to the 911 operators to make their dispatches more effective, to be able to more comprehensive in how they respond, and to be able to provide the context to first responders to know more about the situation they're responding to," Hellebust said during an interview with Urgent Communications.

When receiving a 911 text in a PSAP equipped with Smart911, a call-taker has the option of clicking on a button that will access a database profile associated with the phone number of the device sending the text information, Hellebust said.

"[The database profile] can include photos of the citizen; it can include information about their allergies — for example, if an ambulance is needed, the dispatcher can see whether the person is allergic to penicillin," he said. "If the dispatch is to a home, it allows a picture of the layout of the home or office, so it's true multimedia."

Consumers enter the information into their database profiles at no cost to the consumer, with the understanding that the consumer has given permission to share the information in the case of an emergency, Hellebust said.

"The only thing required for access to the GEM portal by the PSAP is a browser," he said. "This is something that's available as a portal service in a cloud configuration."

Hellebust continued, "[911 operators] can call up any information associated with [the] number of the smartphone that's messaging them, if it is registered in the nationwide Smart911 database. They can be looking at medical history, photos — for example, the picture of a missing child — and all the kinds of rich media that the next-generation capabilities are permitting. And we're there with this available today through the GEM 911 portal."

Available immediately, the Smart911 database-access service is free to GEM users for 911 text messages and can be used with 911 voice calls at an additional cost, according to a TCS press release.