AT&T’s ‘Smart911’ offering boosts emergency response
Corrected on 9/21: The $6,450 per-seat fee is annual, not monthly. We regret the error.
AT&T recently introduced "Smart911," which lets individuals create profiles that contain a variety of personal information that will aid police, fire and emergency medical personnel responding to an emergency incident that involves the individual.
The carrier has set up a Web site, www.smart911.com, where citizens can create their profiles; one does not have to be an AT&T customer to use this service, which is free to citizens. However, public-safety answering points must be contracted with AT&T, and pay a one-time installation fee of $9,250 — and a yearlyrecurring charge of $6,450 per seat — to access information contained in the profiles.
All sorts of information can be input by citizens. For example, they can indicate whether pets are present; list medical conditions and prescription medications for each member of the household; identify the location of important rooms, such as bedrooms; and upload photographs of family members.
Knowing whether household members have special needs before reaching an emergency site is critical for first responders, said Mel Coker, AT&T's vice president of public-safety solutions.
"Let's say that a child goes missing — that photo would be readily available to first responders," Coker said. "There are all sorts of other examples. … I heard a story about a young child who was autistic, and who liked to hide in closets. Firefighters were able to find him because of that information."
Smart911 actually was launched two years ago by Framingham, Mass.-based Rave Mobile Safety, which has been selling the service to PSAPs. The agreement with AT&T — the first carrier to market the service — is expected to dramatically expand its reach, according to Todd Piett, Rave's chief product officer.
"AT&T brings a lot to bear from a national brand standpoint … but when you think about their storefronts and their support organizations, they have a pretty significant footprint in these communities that can help out, as well," Piett said.
It also is hoped that citizens who sign up for the service will put pressure on their local PSAPs to participate in the program. Citizens can execute a ZIP Code search to determine whether their local PSAP is participating.
Smart911 is a secure hosted service that resides in two geographically diverse centers, Piett said. When a 911 call is fielded by a participating center, profile information about that household automatically appears on the telecommunicator's screen. No hardware is required, but two software applications must be downloaded by PSAPs.
"There's a tiny dot-net app that runs on the workstation, and parsing software that watches the ANI/ALI data," said Piett, who added that the IP-based solution will be compatible with next-generation 911 systems in the future.
Coker said that AT&T is "proud" to be bringing Smart911 to its market.
"We're always looking for things that will benefit first responders and the people of the community, and this seems like one of those services that is a really good fit," she said.